Mud­dle Earth

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE DON­ALD CLARKE

Me­dia Re­mas­ter­ing at a high frame rate: what do you mean we have to pay ex­tra?

Enough with the mere sight of gold turn­ing pre­vi­ously sound-as-a-pound char­ac­ters into gib­ber­ing psy­chopaths. Enough with the aw­ful retro­con di­a­logue (“Some­times a storm is just a storm”). Enough with putting the band back to­gether: the ex­ten­sive back­stage guest list has been im­prob­a­bly ex­tended to LOTR star Billy Boyd, who wrote and per­formed the track played over the clos­ing cred­its.

Enough with giv­ing us five min­utes of swash­buck­ling Or­lando Bloom in the hope that we won’t no­tice that noth­ing hap­pened for the en­tire pre­vi­ous half hour. perky and ex­haust­ingly primped. Would it kill them to al­low just one fairy to have an­kles wider than her ring fin­ger? The films of Leni Riefen­stahl were less ob­sessed with a sin­gu­lar ideal of hu­man per­fec­tion. (Though we should clar­ify that the fairies’ dell is a mul­tira­cial af­fair.)

Any­way, the cur­rent chap­ter is among the less ter­ri­ble of the saga. A mem­ber of the gang named Fawn – who seems to be an oc­ca­sional nat­u­ral­ist – hap­pens upon an enor­mous hairy beast and, in the spirit of Ae­sop, ren­ders him friendly by Enough side-lin­ing of Bilbo Bag­gins (Martin Free­man). Enough see­ing the fam­ily of Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) lurk­ing in­ex­pli­ca­bly in the back­ground of ev­ery other shot. Enough switch­ing pro­tag­o­nists. Enough pad­ding.

Enough Bri­tish character ac­tors. Enough trans­form­ing a bang­ing lit­tle tale of der­ring-do into a dis­tress­ing ac­count of post-trau­matic stress disorder. Enough shoe­horn­ing and stretch­ing the ma­te­rial to make sure The Hob­bit 3 func­tions pri­mar­ily as a pre­quel to LOTR – get ready for the 2,000minute Blu-ray cut.

That’s re­ally quite enough, thank you.

What do you mean there’s still another hour to go? re­mov­ing a trou­ble­some thorn. The rest sus­pect that this Nev­erBeast will bring dis­as­ter, but Fawn knows he’s not so fear­some as he looks.

We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Looks tell us noth­ing about a per­son’s in­ner worth. We should all be a bit more scep­ti­cal about tra­di­tional no­tions of beauty. Such are the film’s ad­mirable lessons.

Hang on. Did I men­tion that no­body on this is­land is any­thing other than a size zero? Oh, where’s that tick­ing crocodile when you need him? THE GREAT MU­SEUM/DAS GROSSE MU­SEUM Di­rected by Jo­hannes Holzhausen. Club, limited re­lease, 94 min You have to feel a lit­tle sorry for Jo­hannes Holzhausen’s study of changes at the Kunsthistorisches Mu­seum in Vi­enna. Fred­er­ick Wise­man’s Na­tional Gallery – a con­ti­nent- sized ex­am­i­na­tion of that London in­sti­tu­tion – is about to sprawl it­self across cin­e­mas. The Great Mu­seum, in­evitably, is go­ing to seem like some­thing of a sketch in com­par­i­son. It is, how­ever, a very worth­while piece of work. Hang­ing around the re­open­ing of the Kun­stkam­mer rooms in 2013, the film deals with auc­tions, restora­tions, pro­mo­tional cam­paigns and the ge­om­e­try of pic­ture hang­ing.

For the most part, The Great Mu­seum is as sober and for­mal as the ar­chi­tec­ture of the Aus­trian cap­i­tal. There is no in­tru­sive mu­sic. We get no pa­tro­n­is­ing voiceover. Such

Hang on: The Great Mu­seum

lack of flash is wel­come, but the decision to ex­clude even cap­tions does leave the role of cer­tain par­tic­i­pants in ob­scu­rity. It doesn’t help that – with­out wish­ing to be un­kind – the Kunsthistorisches does not ex­actly swell with ec­centrics and colour­ful char­ac­ters. Hats off to the chap who feeds Brie to the hun­gry ravens. A few more like him would have been wel­come.

Ev­ery now and then, Holzhausen’s cam­era does in­dulge it­self and make some flashy moves. A lengthy track­ing shot of a worker on a scooter must have kicked up some lo­gis­ti­cal nightmares. Sweeps from the ceil­ing over milling crowds are sim­i­larly im­pres­sive.

The film is, how­ever, most no­table for its rig­or­ous treat­ment of every­day pro­ce­dures at a top-flight mu­seum. Watch as (rather poignantly) staff are con­sis­tently out­bid by rich Americans at an auc­tion for 19th-cen­tury cloth­ing. En­joy the ef­forts to rec­on­cile mod­ern con­cerns with the mu­seum’s his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tions to the van­ished Haps­burg dy­nasty. Shud­der as one re­cently re­tired em­ployee’s ca­reer is re­duced to a small pile of pa­pers and, with char­ac­ter­is­tic mid­dle-Euro­pean ef­fi­ciency, hid­den among a vast, as­sid­u­ously or­dered ar­ray of sim­i­lar files. None of us shall es­cape the grim fil­ing clerk in the sky.

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