The new kid goes to the movies

August 4, 2007 at 11:38 am | Posted in Vienna | 4 Comments
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Being the new kid in town, I am beginning to explore my environment. I am pleased to say that my hood offers all the diversion that I require: tube, tram and bus stops within walking distance (2-5 minutes), a cinema where they play original versions just two tram stops away, and a pub where you can buy 1/8l of red wine for € 1,50; a turbo-cheap supermarket (Hofer, the equivalent of Aldi in Germany), an Indian cornershop and another more upmarket supermarket that is open on Saturdays and Sunday. Furthermore, at least five different cafés where you can tap into their wireless for ‘free’ (I drink one cappuccino in two hours).

The movie theatre I’ve been to twice so far [Votivkino] is perfectly tailored to my preferences: I like to sit in the front row (although I really only get to sit in the front row when I go on my own; it’s difficult to find movie comrades who also consider this a premium seat; 3rd row is usually the most that I can persuade anyone to accept). The Votivkino, however, offers special rates to people in the front row: € 6,50 per ticket (it’s € 7,50 from row 2 to 7, and € 8 in the very back – who wants to sit in the back anyway?).

Surprisingly, this does not make people choose front row more often: The two times that I sat comfortably in the middle of the front row with no one next or behind me), indulging in the idea that I had the cinema and the movie completely to myself.

The first movie I saw was Death Proof, the new Tarantino which was allegedly a flop in the U.S. (also because it was offered as part of a double feature, it seems). It seems to be well-received in Europe. It took me a little to get into it, and I do not agree with the often heard verdict that it is a ‘post-feminist movie’, simply because the female characters in the second half are simply behaving like men in female bodies. But I did quite enjoy it, in particular that second half. I don’t want to revea too much about the action, as that would take away too much of the fun. It’s got Rosario Dawson and Kurt Russel in it – let this be enough.

What I did not like about the first half was the (in my eyes) all too obvious reverence to movies of the 60s that came in the form of flickering images, fake scratches on the reel, and other gadgets like intermitted sound that were meant to add 1960’s patina to the viewing experience. It didn’t work for me because it contradicted what happened on the screen; e.g. the characters were using fancy cell phones and sent text messages to each other – I am terribly picky about such details.

I actually though that Death Proof had a certain Bollywood appeal, because the 2nd half was simply an inversion of the 1st half, giving it a positive inflection. If you’ve ever seen any Bollywood movies, you’ll know that everything goes downhill in the first part, reaching a dystopic climax just before the intermission, and that the second half attends to fixing all those flaws in the world (and in the family history in particular). In that sense, the second half of Death Proof comes to right all the wrongs that are done in the first half – you might not have agreed with what happens in that second part if the first hadn’t existed, but in combination it is a truly cathartic experience.

The second movie I saw was Irina Palm, starring Marianne Faithful who plays the role of an elderly woman who takes on a job in a night club, wanking off men who stick their cocks through a hole in a wall. That part of the story intrigued me, and that’s why I wanted to see the movie. As a complete package the story goes different though: Maggie a.k.a Irina Palm does so to save her grandson who is dying from a mysterious disease and who can only be cured in Australia. The treatment is pro bono, but the flight tickets need to be paid for – and both Maggie’s son and stepdaughter are unemployed. The screenplay contains even more of such knickknacks – the club owner falls in love with Maggie (after having ‘tried her out’ secretly), her co-worker Suzie Lush gets the sack because Maggie wanks the men off better than she does, and of course the useless son accuses his mom of being a whore. All in all, too many stereotypes and conventional plot twists for my taste to make this a truly interesting movie. The climax is reached when Maggie accuses her boss (before they fall in love) that she is just ‘business’ for him – well, what did she expect, moonlighting in a night club? Yawn.

Ok, my battery is beginning to run low, must leave the café.


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  1. Sounds like you’re pretty well set up. My neck is sore from the idea of your front-row predilection, but if it works for you…

    Think I’ll pass on Irina Palm. I’ve not seen any recent Tarantino, and what’s more didn’t even know that Death Proof existed. I wonder why it’s fared better in Europe?

  2. Good to hear you are getting settled-in!

    About the movie: I can’t believe they cut up _Grindhouse_!!! I loved that movie and they definitely have to go together–that’s the entire point of the experience. While I do have to say that the Tarantino was better than the Rodriguez, the two complimented each other in interesting ways. Also, some of best fun of the whole thing is contained in the fake movie trailers that play in the “break” between the “double-feature.” Rob Zombie, for example, directed the trailer for the fake movie _Werewolf Women of the SS”–how can you cut that kind of stuff???
    My advice: try to get your hands on a DVD of the entire double feature. You’ll love it.
    Oh, regarding the Tarantino: I have a newfound respect for New Zealanders! 🙂

  3. P.S.: regarding the retro stuff in the Tarantino: I actually thought he played that one quite intelligently. He self-consciously critiques a kind of nostalgia-mode for the 60s and 70s, which becomes especially apparent in the defamiliarizing moment when the 60s-style car chase in muscle-cars enters a highway filled with 2007 SUVs, violently and obviously over-theatrically crashing into and disrupting the present. The contrast, I thought, was brilliant and really made me laugh out loud.

    The again I saw the movie at the Brew-and-View and might not have been completely objective (sober) by the end of the almost four-hour double-feature. 🙂

  4. Getting used to front row viewing takes a while, but once you’ve been there you would not want to go back!

    I didn’t know about the fake trailers at all!!! I hope one gets to see them anyway – and yes, the cut grindhouse in half because the box office results in the US were pretty bad. I am quite certain that ot would not have done much better in Europe either – but as soon as the Rodriguez movie comes out, I am sure on will be able to get a true double featrue, certainly in a place like Vienna!

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