THE NEW and IMPROVED EXORCIST: 30 PERCENT MORE LIKELY to MAKE YOU LOSE BLADDER CONTROL
By John Vettese, Temple News Staff Writer
The first thing I will say about the remastered re-release of the most frightening movie on the planet is that if you’re going to see it, make sure the theater you see it in has a kick-ass sound system.
The thing that really makes this new version of The Exorcist cool isn’t the added scenes, the tweaked color and added imagery: It’s the sound.
In general, the dialogue sounds a lot crisper, and the volume and mixing sound more polished. You can clearly hear everything that is said by all the principal speakers, and even pick up on some lesser parts of the audio track.
You can catch little snippets of side conversations, or hear music playing on a stereo down the hallway in a Georgetown dormitory. These things may not advance the plot, but they add a greater level of realism to the film, especially given that The Exorcist doesn’t have much of a musical score.
The retouched sound makes the movie a hell of a lot freakier. Noises, grunts, growls, screams, drones, scratching, panting, smashing…the aforementioned crisp sound and polished mixing intensify the scare effect of it all.
In some places, additional sounds have been layered on top of the rest, making the mood all the more bone-chilling.
This is where the kick-ass sound system of the theater comes in. If you see The Exorcist at a theater with a decent speaker system and surround sound, the different growls and scratches and such will be jumping out at you from different corners of the theater, constantly causing you to dart your head to your left and right and behind you.
A particularly effective instance is a scene in which Father Karras is examining a recording of the possessed Regan. He is alone in his apartment, and the only sound you hear is Regan’s twisted groans and squeals. Suddenly, his phone rings.
In surround sound, the ring is piercingly loud, and comes from the left rear of the theater–and everybody in the audience turns toward it. It’s a sort of interactive scare.
The “new” scenes are fair. A few are just plot expository and go to explain some aspects of the story that may not have made sense before, unless you read the book. One or two are generally disturbing, such as Regan scooting down the staircase upside-down, spitting blood.
A disappointing final scene has been tacked on as an alternate ending, with the seemingly superfluous private investigator character asking a priest to see a movie.
Better than those additions are the added images. In a few scenes, where the lighting is predominately dark and the mood is sufficiently creepy, projections of demon statues and actual demons flash on and off, making for a momentary jolt.
But all told, it is the sound that really makes this film. It is a hard enough task to watch it and not get creeped out when you’re dealing with the old version and it’s on video. With the new version, on the big screen, and noises jumping at you from all sides…good luck.
REMEMBER THE TITANS, A WELL-INTENTIONED ROMP
By Sean McCann, Sports Editor
Denzel Washington’s characters are always tough, stubborn guys with idealistic hearts and moral fortitude. Evidence is his portrayals of the likes of Malcolm X and Hurricane Carter.
Add Herman Boone to that list of true, admirably strident black men whom Denzel has brought to life on-screen. Boone’s speeches in Remember the Titans are reminiscent of Washington’s stirring performance in Philadelphia, and his leader-of-men traits seem straight out of Denzel’s other collaboration with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Crimson Tide.
But whether he tried to or not, Denzel doesn’t steal the show in Remember the Titans. Excellent supporting performances and, more importantly, the story make the movie.
Based on a true story, Titans is about a newly-racially-integrated football team in Virginia in 1971. Boone is the man brought in to coach the squad while the established white coach, Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is made to step aside.
It’s a tribute to director Boaz Yakin and the cast that the movie was able to reflect the conflict and gravity of the situation without using the n-word, which would have blown both the film’s PG rating and its Disney distribution.
The extent to which the characters triumph over hate through some of the movie is difficult to believe and may be an effect of the Disney sponsorship. But the performances are genuinely good enough to suspend most viewers’ disbelief to the extent that’s necessary for any worthwhile cinematic experience.
While Washington’s Boone stays the course, the unexpected eloquence of the film is the shades of change in the characters around him.
The football footage was authentic and charged enough to make the audience react as if it were real. The most important thing about a sports movie, often, is that the actors actually look like athletes, and Titans succeeds comfortably there.
The soundtrack was effective, if a little typical of Brukheimer’s films – in my mind, I can’t discern the score from that of Crimson Tide or Armageddon.
Without a doubt, the best part about the music, however, was the soul; it’s hard to go wrong the Temptations.
Remember the Titans is a departure as far as Bruckheimer-produced movies go. It’s not of the blockbuster mega-budget variety, being the first movie on his Technical Black banner.
Like most Bruckheimer projects, though, the drama is far from subtle and the film leaves little to interpretation.
Denzel Washington fans will not be disappointed with Remember the Titans, and neither will fans of strong acting. The importance of the subject matter leaves me wishing someone other than Bruckheimer and Disney made the film. But that said, the ride was thoroughly enjoyable.
JAPANESE MASTER, KURASAWA, DELIVERS HIS LAST FILM
By Jayme Guokas
Akira Kurosawa is Japan’s most eminent director. His career began in 1943 and ended in 1993 with the heartwarming movie Madadayo. Kurosawa’s final film, recently released in America, is about the golden years in the life of a professor who is admired and cared for by his students.
Madadayo means “not yet”, which is what the professor says to his friends and family after drinking a large glass of beer at an annual party held in his honor.
The film begins with his retirement from the classroom in order to write, and follows his life for twenty years of Madadayo celebrations.Over these years, his house is bombed in the air raids of World War II and he lives a simple life in a shack with his wife and a cat named Nora.
This is a touching story and Kurosawa keeps his promise that “all the people who have seen Madadayo will leave the theater refreshed, with broad smiles on their faces.”
Madadayo will also leave you with a deep respect for old age. The professor grows old gracefully and his humor, kindness and humility are admirable. It is a fitting end to the career of a director who has left us with a thinly veiled autobiography.
Madadayo is a far cry from Kurosawa’s earlier films, but his impeccable sense of composition and storytelling remain intact. Rashomon (1950), is considered one of the masterpieces of cinema and anticipates the narrative structure of Reservoir Dogs.
Yojimbo (1961) is a samurai film that resembles American westerns, complete with a showdown in the center of a dusty town. In fact, it inspired spaghetti westerns and was remade by Sergio Leone as A Fist Full of Dollars.
Kurosawa was a painter in his youth, and his later films reflect his mastery of color. Dreams (1990) features some of the most stunning imagery in the world of film. Kurosawa’s films even left their mark on George Lucas’s Star Wars trilogy.
Madadayo is not as epic as his other works, and there is less violence and action. Kurosawa’s insight into the human condition, though, is stronger than ever.