Notes from the back row 

Olympic documentaries and movies

Hitler was a douche and I hear from a good source that in Hell he gets a pineapple shoved up his ass every hour on the hour, leafy end first. Old Adolf's fiery death at the end of Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds may not have been historically accurate but it certainly was one of 2009's shining cinematic moments. Good riddance to that guy.

Except a little bit of Hitler will be creeping into town next week with the arrival of the much-anticipated joint-shaped torch that's been working its way across our great country. See, the Olympic torch relay as we know it was started in 1936 for the Summer Games in Berlin, Germany, a.k.a. "the Nazi Games,".

Of course, it wasn't Hitler's idea. Rather Carl Diem, his Nazi head of sports, who first proposed a bunch of Aryan runners relay the Olympic flame from Greece to Berlin - all part of an overall plan to show off German organization and pride as well as a chance to infer that the Aryans were somehow linked to, or descendants of, the much-respected ancient Greeks. The torch run has happened at every Olympics since then, proof that if you put the right shine on it most people don't mind a little propaganda now and then.

But what does any of this have to do with movies? Well, for one, I never got that email with the Village 8 listings this week so who knows what is playing locally. And two, I just suffered through Olympia, a tediously long film about the '36 Olympics made by Hitler's favourite filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (Triumph of the Will) which contains footage of that first ever torch relay. It also contains a crapload of one-arm Nazi saluting but was actually, apparently, commissioned by the IOC not the Germans and is considered by many critics to be one of the best sports films ever made (better than The Mighty Ducks even!).

Olympia does have some pretty awesome footage of Olympic athletes competing in jogging pants and lots of slow motion sequences of competitors from every nation doing most events. If you're broke, not working or just bored you can find Olympia online on Google video.

Speaking of not working, Mel Gibson has a movie out this week, his first starring role in eight years. Edge of Darkness is directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royal) and written by the guy who wrote The Departed. Gibson plays a tough-guy Boston cop whose college-age daughter gets gunned down outside his house. At first believing the bullet was meant for him, Gibson embarks on a paranoid procedural drama (that's what they call action movies with not enough action) that dips into everything from eco-terrorism to nuclear weapons to political and corporate cover-ups. Also there is a lot of puking in this movie.

Edge of Darkness is part crime mystery, part political thriller and a lot of Mel Gibson with "nothing to lose" crying over spilled milk. Not a great movie by any means - the plot is confusing and the 'clues' are clunky, but its not total shite either, especially for a Gibson who's been in the papers for all the wrong reasons lately.

DVD of the week, sticking with Olympic movies, is Munich, Steve Spielberg's fictionalized account of the 1972 Munich Olympics and the execution of the Israeli team by Palestinian militants. Eric Bana stars as the agent of revenge and just goes through the film killing people. Awesome. It's a good suspense flick but also an effective look at terrorism and counterterrorism - pertinent as there are a lot of army guys in Whistler right now. We're a town that's used to cannons, just not the military kind.




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