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CavemanPlato | Riverside, Ca. United States | 03/14/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"WonderwallI purchased Wonderwall and Rear Window on the same day. When I got them I realized they were both movies about looking, about interiority and desire. Rear Window is, of course, one of the greatest work of cinema art. On the other hand, Wonderwall (thankfully made available by Rhino video) is in an altogether different category. How to categorise it? Pulp, low art, pop, guilty-pleasure, who can say? For me it was a moving and beautiful film in its own way, a slice of the 60s zeitgiest, (so different form the mini-series versions of recent years) a chance to feel the real possibilties floating in the culture before nihilism, fundamentalism and greed became fashionable. George Harrison's music is terrific. There's even a poem by John Lennon on the DVD extras. The colors and art in the film are also period: they hearken to the psychedelic work of Peter Max, the posters for groups like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. But, most of all, one can glimpse the 60s version of the beautiful in the form of Jane Birken, who plays a fashion model. Each age has its concept of beauty, as the film points out by movie posters of earlier screen sirens on the apartment walls, and Jane Birken really captured the original free spirit waif long before Kate Moss revived it. Birken really shares her perky charms in this movie, her cat like playfulness. True, she may not be a feminist ideal, you may not compare Nietzsche to Camus with her, but then would you want Ally McBeal for a lawyer? Movies from this period are hard to find so lets hope Rhino and Criterion continue there good work of porting this time to DVD. Don't miss Jane Birken's other nimble foray onto DVD in May Morning."
A "period piece" for all times
jim yoakum | USA | 01/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unlike similar "psychedelic" films of the 60s, Wonderwall is one of the few to successfully capture the look and feel of what now appears to be a mythic time when creativity and freedom in cinema was not only new and exciting - but mainstream. Wonderwall will not be for everyone, but it will appeal to those who can appreciate the off-beat and provocative. It will challenge you but also reward you with brilliant performances and one of the best-ever soundtracks (by the late George Harrison). Psychedelic? You bet. But that term does not do justice to what is simply a charming "period piece" that still resonates today for those who like intelligent cinema. A must-have."
Nice Little Film
E. Steven Fried | Seattle | 12/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Based on a story by frequent Polanski collaborator, Gerard Brach and produced a year after Fearless Vampire Killers, which also featured performances by Jack MacGowran and Iain Quarrier, this is marvelous little piece, light and yet moving, filled with wonderful visuals, a nifty performance by MacGowran and a wonderful score by everyone's favorite Beatle, George. A plain synopsis doesn't do it any justice. Yes, it's about a daffy old guy who peers in on a lovely young woman living next door, but there's nothing creepy or pathetic about it. In fact, he's actually quite a bit of a dashing and romantic figure in his own detached, weird way. One of the most notable things about the film is the art direction by the Dutch band/art collective The Fool. A sort of lesser Incredible String Band that served for a while as the Beatles in-house designers, they made the most of what was most likely a thin budget by pouring every ounce of energy into dressing two amazing, Assheton Gorton designed, sets for the adjacent apartments of the old man and the young model. They are, without a doubt, two of the coolest looking places to live I have ever seen in a movie (I would give my eye-teeth to live in either one of those flats) and they form as much of a part of the main characters as the portrayal by the actors themselves. The old scientist lives in Celtic-Medieval warren, inspired by Pre-Raphaelite design, and the young model lives in a mod Sixties psychedelic/glam environment suffused with overtones of 20's/30's nostalgia. Both apartments then are filled with a yearning for the past and so, the old man becomes no more of a romanticist than the girl, despite his age. He is actually quite dashing in his cape and tuxedo when engaging in some of his later escapades, like some bandit out of a Fantomas picture. No, this movie isn't about a pathetic old guy lusting after a lithe young thing. It's about a few other things more interesting and perhaps more touching, but you'll have to find out for yourself. Oh, and if you really want to know, go ahead and read Tennyson's 'The Lady of Shallot', the opening lines of which are insribed in a lintel the scientist's apartment, and transpose the gender of the characters."
Period piece worth the trip
Robert Hughes | Ohio State University, U.S.A. | 11/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"An earlier reviewer called this a period piece, and I think that's exactly the right spirit needed to enjoy the film.For those of us too young to remember 1969, this is a rather remarkable time capsule of values and social relationships. Most striking is the sense that the film seems to have been made by young people with really no idea of how older people live their lives. That wouldn't be a great problem, except that the film itself takes the generation gap as its central feature: how an older man living a boring, empty, unfulfilling life glimpses (but cannot participate in) the colorful, uninhibited, sensual lives of younger people.On the other hand, while the film is clearly enamored with the hip glamor of youth and beauty, it also suggests that young people bridge the gender gap principally to have sex with each other. Otherwise, they don't have much to say. Strange! I remember getting that same sense from The Graduate (not to compare the two).Anyway, I think the dvd is recommendable. Good picture, good music (of course), very good extras, and an interesting snapshot of a time and place.-"
Uneven, but worth the trip
Jim Yoakum | Atlanta, GA United States | 08/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Penned by Roman Polanski's scriptwriter, Gerard Brach, "Wonderwall" is a mildly trippy look at obsession and repression, voyerism and sex. The plot is simplicity itself: a mild-mannered professor finds a spyhole in his living room which allows him to become involved in a world of young, Mod, Londoners (circa 1967). Through this hole (his "wonderwall") the professor becomes entwined in a world of fantasy and sexual chemistry and becomes both transformed and the transformer. Directed by the talented Joe Massot (also known for directing Zeppelin's "Song Remains the Same" and the equally wonderfully weird "Zachariah"), "Wonderwall" is filled with bright colour, groovy sounds and a decidedly 60's visual style. It's also been digitally spiffed up and features extended soundtrack music (by George Harrison). My only personal disappointment is with Jack MacGowran, who plays the professor. While he is a brilliant actor, and was wonderful in "How I Won The War", I find him slightly miscast here. But, all-in-all, "Wonderwall" is a minor treat."