Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-09-10
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Laverne Cox, Dustin Lance Black and Jason Collins at Chicago House event Laverne Cox, Dustin Lance Black and Jason Collins at Chicago House event
Chicago's House's 6th annual speaker series will offer a triple-threat of LGBT ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Knight at the Movies: The Hobbit; film notes
2012-12-12

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


The thing that's been on everyone's mind when it comes to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, of course, is, "How does it look?" Ever since director Peter Jackson trumpeted the fact that he was shooting the three-part epic in a never-before-seen upgrade of the standard frame ratio (from 24 to 48 frames per second), the curiosity about the process has been intense. Jackson and his team have touted a film experience so visually elevated (in 3D, no less) that one expected nothing less than a visual epiphany—something akin, no doubt, to the wonders that greeted Ray Milland in The Man with the X-Ray Eyes.

So how does it look? Like a TV soap opera shot on video and broadcast on an HD TV—a combination of one of those BBC cheapo Masterpiece Theatre miniseries and Dr. Who with a zillion-dollar budget. The clarity, as it turns out, is too real for its own good, and the lack of diffusion and the ability to distance oneself or to get any relief from the super-sharp focus have a disconcerting effect (to say the least) that is a fiasco. The mood and mystery of Middle-earth is gone.

"What is this, CBC Playhouse 90?" a friend of mine whispered snidely at the sneak preview—not a bad assessment of the process. One has plenty of time to mentally grouse about it and think of even more comparisons as Jackson (along with his usual script collaborators, wife Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens) takes a really, really long time to get things going. The story couldn't be simpler: Bilbo Baggins (the winning Martin Freeman), the hobbit of the title, is coerced into joining a band of dwarves and the wizard Gandalf the Grey (the openly gay actor Ian McKellan having a hammy good time) in an attempt to reclaim long lost treasure (and their homeland), slaying the dragon Smaug, who stole it from them, in the process. Bilbo, a contented bachelor, has lived quietly in the bucolic Shire countryside in his well-stocked hobbit hole, eagerly downing six meals a day and practicing fancy smoke rings on his elongated pipe—and he wants nothing to do with this adventure.

Nevertheless, in spite of himself, Bilbo is drawn into the adventure and soon, due to his wee size and his newly found courage, becomes an unintended ally for the band of merry men. As the journey progresses we get the backstory of how the dwarves lost their fortune and much else that hints at the events covered in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (The Hobbit takes place 60 years prior.) Bilbo recalls the journey as he writes about it for his beloved nephew Frodo (Elijah Wood, in a cameo) and, every once in a while, the tale transports you.

There are glorious wide shots of the Shire in full bloom; breathtaking shots of an underground kingdom presided over by a vicious gnome king (voiced by Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna); a treacherous, fun moment when mountainous rocky formations battle it out for dominance; and several thrilling chase sequences. Best is when the ragtag group reaches Rivendale, home of the graceful elves (Hugo Weaving returns as Elrond, their leader); and a private meeting between Gandalf, his mentor Saruman (Christopher Lee) and the ethereal elf queen (Cate Blanchett). There's also a reappearance of the tragic but oddly endearing Gollum (Andy Serkis) and his beloved "precious" ring.

Yet each time you are about to fall for the expertly detailed fantasy world, that damn high aspect ratio announces itself like an unwanted party guest and the mood is once again shattered. Really, I have never so palpably felt displeasure at a supposed technical advance. Instead of enhancing the experience of Middle-earth and a greatly anticipated return to it, Jackson's movie throws into question your desire to be there altogether. Did he not take a look at some test footage before continuing to shoot? Couldn't he see how poorly it translated to the big screen?

All my vitriol about Jackson's folly (that is surely what it is), though, is matched when the writer-director makes another tactical error—the gargantuan length of the picture. Jackson has skipped right over the theatrical version and gone right to the fan geek director's cut that includes all the extraneous stuff and the scenes that should've stayed in the edit bin. Even the most diehard Tolkien fans may have trouble with the movie's greatly padded three-hour running time.

By cutting down the film's lackadaisical opening section and reverting to a standard frame ratio, Jackson may yet achieve what Tolkien fans have eagerly awaited—a return to Middle-earth that lives up to the hype. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is that rare cinema case where less—much less—is definitely going to be more. Here's hoping Jackson's love affair with technology (something he shares with James Cameron) shifts back to his real strength—good old-fashioned storytelling—and that he has the courage to edit down the film.

It's a director's cut worth anticipating.

Film notes:

—Tennessee-born artist Wayne White, who created much of the look and oddball, child-like characters for Pee Wee's Playhouse (he also voiced several of them), has had a decidedly eclectic artistic career. From helming videos for Peter Gabriel and Smashing Pumpkins to a raft of humorous performance-art pieces—with some banjo-plucking tossed in for good measure —White has dipped his creative hand in many areas. He's profiled in Neil Berkeley's documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing, which is having its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., on Friday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. The artist, who resides in Los Angeles, will be present via Skype for a post-screening discussion hosted by Ain't It Cool News' Steve Prokopy (aka "Capone"). The film plays through Thursday, Dec. 20. www.siskelfilmcenter.com

—The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., has added a new holiday double-feature to its schedule that tickles the funny bone: On Tuesday, Dec. 18, it will present what it's appropriately titling A Bob Clark Christmas, featuring the late director's two holiday set films: 1983's hilarious classic A Christmas Story (at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.) and the infamous, 1974 slasher pic Black Christmas (at 9:30 p.m.). The former, based on the charming, insightful stories of humorist Jean Shepard is filled with one gloriously delightful sequence after another while the latter—in which a demented killer stalks a group of comely sorority co-eds during the holidays—is a much better film than its description would suggest. (For one thing, it is much less violent.) The historic theater's 29th annual double presentation of It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas, with live holiday sing-a-long with Dennis Scott at the organ, screens Dec. 14-24. www.musicboxtheatre.com

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitymediagroup.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

Reeling Film Festival overview 2014-09-14
Roosevelt doc sidesteps Eleanor's sexuality 2014-09-12
Skrebneski unveils Chicago International Film Fest poster 2014-09-11
Reeling Film Festival at Century Centre Sept. 20 2014-09-11
Screenings: Bjork film, Ugandan LGBT film 2014-09-11
Knight at the Movies: The Skeleton Twins; The Homestretch; film notes 2014-09-10
Fall LGBT movie preview 2014-09-10
'The Roosevelts' avoids Eleanor's sexuality 2014-09-09
Women's Film; Martina proposes; Sky finals; AIDS Run, Walk 2014-09-09
Pride Films, Plays' Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts 2014-09-09
POV's 'Koch' airs Sept. 22 on PBS 2014-09-08
Alan Cumming in Conversation Oct. 13 at Music Box 2014-09-08
Knight at the Movies: The Last of Robin Hood; film notes 2014-09-03
John Leguizamo 'Klowns' around, talks 'To Wong Foo' 2014-09-03
ENTERTAINMENT EVENTS Women's Words Fest; Queer poetry; Reeling 2014-09-03
Carell's gay film; Bomer's Horror Story; Gaga joins Lambert 2014-09-02
Gay Asian website to debut 'Break-up King' 2014-08-30
Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts 2014-08-29
Reeling LGBT film fest opens Sept. 18 2014-08-27
Knight at the Movies: Love Is Strange; To Be Takei; Yves; film notes 2014-08-27
Director Ira Sachs, star Alfred Molina on 'Love Is Strange' 2014-08-27
Expendables 3 reveal; Roberts' honor; Cohen on Top Chef 2014-08-26
Way-out Wizard World: costumes, characters, artists 2014-08-26
Machnik wins Nate Berkus' reality show, looks at future 2014-08-25
Knight at the Movies: The Dog; The Giver; film note 2014-08-19
Gay superhero event touches on gender stereotypes, diversity 2014-08-19
'Orange' wins Creative Emmys 2014-08-17
Film about George Takei to screen at Facets 2014-08-16
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Lesbian drama 'Anatomy' on Vimeo 2014-08-13
Jena Malone and Lem Jay Ignacio in 'Shoe' business 2014-08-12
Knight at the Movies: Into the Storm; film notes 2014-08-11
Reeling announces line-up of LGBT films 2014-08-08
Knight at the Movies: Violette; The Hundred-Foot Journey 2014-08-06
Jennifer Hudson on family; Turing subject of film 2014-08-05
Wachowskis host TransLife Center benefit at film studio 2014-08-03
Joan Jett's honor; Nathan Lane's point; 'True Blood' 2014-07-30
Knight at the Movies: Marvel's Guardians...; Lucy; film notes 2014-07-30
Agnes Moorehead to get her due at NRHOF ceremony 2014-07-30





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Agencies push state to release HIV/AIDS funds
 
Pride Films, Plays' Women's Words Film Fest premieres shorts
 
Laverne Cox, Dustin Lance Black and Jason Collins at Chicago House event
 
Roosevelt doc sidesteps Eleanor's sexuality
 
Local news: Gay Indian prince, HBHC raises wages
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.