In Defense of Giorgio Moroder’s Metropolis

By the time I was first interested in seeing Metropolis, I was lucky that the first print I got to see was the 2002 restoration.  I’d heard that before the 2002 restoration, there were some pretty shoddy prints available, but I never actually sought one out to see for myself.  But a few months later, I unwittingly found out just how bad those bad prints could be.  I was in college at the time and one night I went to my Intro to Film Studies class and the teacher said we would be watching Metropolis that night.  I got all excited and started raving to my friends sitting nearby about what an amazing movie it was.  Plus, this was the last class of an extremely long day, so I liked the idea of topping it off by watching one of my favorite movies.  It didn’t even occur to me that we wouldn’t be watching the lovely Kino DVD that I was used to.  Then the teacher put in the DVD and the first thing we saw were blurry intertitles.  All I could think was, “Oh, boy.  This is going to hurt.”  This version completely unwatchable.  The picture quality was atrocious, whole subplots were deleted and what was left was an incoherent mess.  The musical score was horrible, it was just generic music thrown in with no particular regard for whether or not it was appropriate for what was happening in the movie.  The teacher actually kept leaving the room because she couldn’t stand listening to it.  I was horrified to see one of my favorite movies in such a sorry state.  The only thing that made the experience bearable was the fact that some of my classmates started adding their own MST3K style commentary.

I knew of a version of Metropolis that was put together by Giorgio Moroder, but again, I never actively sought it out.  Actually, I thought the idea of Metropolis with a Pat Benetar soundtrack was pretty laughable.  But when a local theater had a midnight screening of the Giorgio Moroder Metropolis this past weekend, I decided to go, mostly out of morbid curiosity.  After seeing that complete abomination of a print in class, I went in bracing myself for the worst.  So imagine my surprise when I ended up sort of liking it.

It’s really easy to make fun of the Giorgio Moroder Metropolis based solely on the fact that it features music by Loverboy.  But after actually seeing it, I’ve got to give him credit for putting real thought into his version of it, because that’s a lot more than I can say for some of those other old prints.  Obviously, his version is  missing a lot of footage, but the core story is there and it’s told coherently.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the musical score, there were a few moments of it that were laughably cheesy.  But there were also a few parts of it that I did like and at least he used music that was appropriate for what was going on in the movie.  I didn’t really care for his attempts at using color in a few scenes, but at least the overall picture quality wasn’t too terrible.  Of course, nothing tops the picture quality of that you see in the 2002 version or the complete restoration, but believe me, it could have been much, much worse.

After actually seeing the Moroder version, I finally understand why that version kind of has a cult fan base.  I always assumed that was due to the music, but now it’s occurred that this version was probably the first time a lot of people saw Metropolis in a way that was any good at all.  If I had gotten interested in Metropolis in 1986 rather than 2006 and the Moroder version was the first one I saw, I could picture myself having a sentimental attachment to it.  Especially if I had spent years watching an old VHS tape of it just because it was the best version I could find.  It may not be my personal favorite version of Metropolis, but I can’t knock Moroder for doing his version of it, either.  It introduced Metropolis to a lot of people and it drew attention to how desperately it needed restoration and I fail to see how those are bad outcomes.

Why a Thin Man Remake is Doomed to Fail

Oh, how I was hoping talk of this remake would just go away.  But nope, it looks like they’re serious about remaking The Thin Man with Johnny Depp. *sigh*  When I first heard about this, I think I yelled, “NO!” the exact same way Myrna Loy did in that scene from the first Thin Man movie where Nora is very hung over and Nick offers her a pick-me-up.

To me, The Thin Man is a movie that simply can’t be remade in a way that would do justice to the original.  There are a lot of reasons that the original movie is so perfect.  You’ve got Myrna Loy and William Powell, who are both simply divine in their respective roles.  But Johnny Depp is a good actor, right?  I do like Johnny Depp, but when you’re best known for playing a Keith Richards-inspired pirate and being a muse to Tim Burton, I have a very hard time picturing you in any role originated by William Powell.  Then there’s W.S. Van Dyke’s direction.  But Rob Marshall is an Oscar nominee, so he must be good, right?  OK, so I don’t really have a problem with Marshall directing.  And I can’t forget the razor-sharp writing of the original movie!  Considering the article I linked to names Jerry Stahl as the writer for the remake, then cites him as being a writer for CSI and Bad Boys II, I’m rather concerned about just how genuinely witty and sophisticated this will be.

But the acting, direction, and writing aren’t the only reasons why The Thin Man was excellent.  The real glue that brought the movie together was that spectacular chemistry between Myrna Loy and William Powell.  Their chemistry is always a joy to watch in any movie, but when you put that spark together with that director and that ultra witty script, you get cinematic perfection.  Even if Johnny Depp surprises me and does a great job as Nick Charles and the screenplay is truly delightful, they will never be able to recreate that infamous Loy/Powell chemistry.

I believe that remakes, in theory, can work.  But when a huge part of the appeal of the original hinges on an intangible quality, I really don’t have much hope for the success of a remake.  The part of Nora Charles has yet to be cast, but whoever it ends up being could have fabulous chemistry with Johnny Depp, but it could be the wrong type of chemistry for something like this.  Just try to imagine The Thin Man with some other classic film duos as Nick and Nora.  It just wouldn’t have worked as well starring Bogie and Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, or Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  Even though I don’t think a Tracy/Hepburn version would be so bad, it just wouldn’t be the same without Loy and Powell.  They were made for movies like The Thin Man and trying to recapture that is like trying to make lightning strike the same place twice.

The Evolution of a Movie Geek

As seen on The Droid You’re Looking For!:

This was just too good not to share.  Hilarious and very true!  I’m not sure if I’m fully in the Celluloid Sapien stage yet since I can still get pretty snarky (although I doubt that’s ever going to go away), but I think running a movie blog counts as finding a way to share my love of cinema.  Also, I should probably start carrying around a megaphone so I can be just like the person in the illustration.  And just for fun, here’s a quick overview of my movie geek evolution:

Familymovius Cartoonata (Age 3) – Favorite movie: E.T.

Blockbustericus (Age 12) – Favorite movies: Original Star Wars trilogy

Sundancicus Robustus (Age 17) – Favorite movies: Anything Quentin Tarantino

Oscaria Subtitlus (Age 19) – Favorite movies: The Graduate, The Great Dictator

Filmsnobicus Hipsterata (Age 22) – Favorite movies: Les parapluies de Cherbourg, Metropolis, Rock ‘n Roll High School

Celluloid Sapien (Age 25) – Favorite movies: Refer to my Top 100 movies list.

Classic Film Ringtones

Earlier today I decided I was sick of the ringtone I had on my phone so I started looking through the Verizon website to see if I could find anything more interesting.  I started by looking through ones from some of my favorite bands, but then I started searching for classic movie songs.  I wasn’t really expecting much, but I ended up finding more than I expected to.  So if you want your phone to reflect your classic film fan status, here are some of the best ones I found:


So They Tell Me I’m Stylish…

Well, at least Carley from The Kitty Packard Pictorial thinks I’m stylish, anyway! She has given me the Stylish Blogger award and I’m flattered to be included in a great bunch of ladies. I’m sure you’ve seen this going around the blogosphere lately, but if you haven’t, here’s the deal: I name seven random facts about myself and tag seven other bloggers to keep the game going.

So, with no further ado, I present seven facts about myself.  Very few of them have anything to do with style:

1.  My day job is intern at a video post-production studio.

2.  I had a phobia of driving for a long time and refused to get my driver’s license until I was 24.  The only reason I finally decided to get my license is because I really wanted to go to a Green Day concert and had no other way to get there.  I ended up getting really close to the stage and had one of the best nights of my life, so it was definitely worth it.

3.  I collect vintage clothing, particularly hats, purses, and coats.

4.  I have a very long-standing loathing of Adam Sandler and the shows Saved by the Bell and Friends.

5.  I graduated from college magna cum laude.

6.  This video is my favorite thing that I have ever written:

7.  I once gave a friend a really big can of corn for Christmas.  It was awesome.

It’s hard for me to pick seven other bloggers who haven’t already been picked for this.  So you know what?  If you haven’t already been tagged for this, consider yourself tagged now.  I like to believe that all my readers are pretty darn stylish, so feel free to pick up the torch and tell us a little about yourself.

MTV and My Taste in Movies

Every once in a while, I take a look at something that I really liked when I was a kid and am surprised by how much that thing influenced me without me even realizing it.  For example, I was a big fan of Pink Panther cartoons when I was a kid.  Not too long ago, I got a DVD collection of Pink Panther cartoons and sat down to watch them for the first time in well over a decade.  After watching a few cartoons, all I could think is, “Wow, no wonder I ended up being such a big fan of silent films.”  So many of those cartoons were straight-up Chaplin.  I had never made that connection before, but it makes a lot of sense that spending so much time watching Pink Panther cartoons as a kid planted the seeds for me to appreciate people like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton now.

A couple of weeks ago, I got on a 90’s music kick, so I spent some time watching music videos I liked when I was younger.  Once again, I was quite surprised to realize that a lot of those music videos were pretty good indicators of what my taste in movies would be like later on.


Movie Adventures in Detroit

You can say a lot of things about Detroit, but the Metro Detroit area is actually a pretty cool place to live for a classic movie fan.  There are two amazing places around here that routinely play classic films on the big screen: the Redford Theater and the Detroit Film Theater.  I’ll gladly take an excuse to visit either theater, but this weekend I was lucky enough to pay a visit both of them.  On Saturday, I saw Singin’ in the Rain at the Redford Theater and today I saw Mr. Hulot’s Holiday at the Detroit Film Theater.