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Monday Movies: My heart’s going boom boom boom

I watched the following movies since my last Monday Movies post:

  • The Three-Penny Opera — a colleague of mine in German is hosting a film series, and when she told me they were showing this, I felt I had to do the two-for-one Brecht-Pabst combo. I found the movie to be really funny, but what I’d like to point out here is that McDonald’s created a mascot in the late 80s based on Mack the Knife, namely, Mac Tonight:

    No one ever believes me if they haven’t seen it for themselves, but it’s all too real — in fact, I went as Mac Tonight for Halloween one year. After seeing the movie, it seems clear to me that some marketing agency was playing an elaborate prank on McDonald’s.

  • The Shining — Though The Girlfriend felt that Jack Nicholson was guilty of overacting, we both agreed upon seeing this (for the first time!) that we needed to do a Stanley Kubrik “light completism” project now. Perhaps because of what I’ve been teaching this quarter, I was especially struck by the race and colonial aspects of the story — such as the fact that the black chef has to fly all the way from Miami just to be the first to die. It definitely warrants more thought, in conjunction with Kubrik’s other films.
  • The Magic Flute (Bergman) — This movie made me question my entire opera-familiarization project. The plot made no sense, and I have no idea why Bergman would’ve wanted to do an adaptation of it. The “sidekick” aspects were the best, yet I felt Bergman cut some of them out (given that the movie was only around 2 hours and operas are around 3). Overall: very hard to get through.

February 22, 2010 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. It’s true that the plot of The Magic Flute isn’t very logical, but the opera does make dramatic sense if you see it in an opera setting. The Bergman adaptation is strange in lots of ways — for example, it films most of the action cinematically, rather than simply filming the stage, yet it doesn’t entirely commit to turning the opera into a film, and so the shots are often just awkward and halfhearted. Also, making Papageno into just some regular guy was a terrible decision — there’s clearly something wrong with this man, and if it’s not the fact that he’s a crazy birdselling mutant, then it’s something else, and possibly something more sinister.

    You should see it performed, or at least in as a filmed theatrical performance — it really is very nice. The proper Papageno/Papagena duet (not the Bergman one) can pretty reliably make me cry.

    Comment by jms | February 22, 2010

  2. Correction: shouldn’t it be “boom boom pow” in the title?

    Comment by JoB | February 22, 2010

  3. No, I’m referring to the lyrics to Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” which is part of this classic parody trailer for The Shining.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | February 22, 2010

  4. I remember Mac Tonight very well; as a child, I would have horrible dreams and fitful sleep following those commercials.

    Comment by stras | February 22, 2010

  5. I remember the Mac Tonight commercials, too, and still spontaneously bust into a couple lines of it when conversation gives the opening. I recently realized there are a number of personal jokes I make that are severely outdated, so I’ve tried to limit myself to only making them inwardly.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 22, 2010

  6. Do you like the music? I think liking opera has to start from there, particularly pieces that (like The Magic Flute) don’t have much to recommend them dramatically. Love of the music itself has certainly led me to overlook the ridiculously gaping holes in, e.g., the plot of Wagner’s Ring (which of course is dramatically a million times more compelling than The Magic Flute). The Magic Flute is a very, very silly opera, but it has some great tunes.

    Of course, it does help to know something about the Singspiel tradition, the Masonic aspect of the opera, and so on — the silly plot doesn’t exist in a vacuum. But people like it for the great music. This has been true of the piece basically since its premiere 220 years ago.

    Comment by Brodysattva | February 22, 2010

  7. That Shining trailer is hilarious, and remarkably well done. The clips in the redemption portion of the trailer are exactly the kind of shots they show in trailers for movies that actually have the storyline implied.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | February 23, 2010

  8. Kubrick link extravaganza:

    You must read this piece on The Shining if you haven’t already, especially given your thoughts about colonialism. Thought-expanding in the same manner as the Tim Kreider piece.

    Also, see this article by Frederic Jameson on The Shining:

    Finally, a brief discussion of Eyes Wide Shut by our friend Slavoj (you have probably seen this already):

    Postscript: the Kubrick site has tons of awesome stuff:

    Comment by Hill | February 24, 2010

  9. You still have to see Boris Godunov. If you pay close attention you’ll find that Musorgsky had both a theory of stet-formation and a theory of history, though to get the whole effect you have to see Khovanshchina too.

    Comment by John Emerson | February 25, 2010

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