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review of "The Ninth Gate"

By rongen in News
Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 08:27:28 AM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

I just got back from "The Ninth Gate", the new Roman Polanski film starring Johnny Depp, among others. The short version is: high brow, sophisticated, non-formulaic... For the long version read below (no spoilers).

"The Ninth Gate" was much more sophisticated than I expected, and is definitely for anyone who has ever read anything about rare books, the Prince of Darkness, or the Black Arts and secretly enjoyed it. Polanski serves up a feast for those who have been under-nourished by Hollywood's meager fare for too long. Depp delivers as well, but his performance is subtle, and may cause some to accuse him of being slightly robotic in this movie. This would be due to the odd, unfeeling way he reacts to some very serious circumstances (kept secret from the as yet uninitiated). But this movie is all about suspension of disbelief, against your better judgment. When Depp's character, a rather jaded and unscrupulous aquirer of rare books, fails to react in an realistic way it is because he knows he is immersed in something bigger than himself--and it is causing him to question many fundamental beliefs about the world and his place in it.

This movie is classy, and not driven by the standard Hollywood formulas. It's not for fans of car-chasing shoot-em-ups or sappy love stories, although there is enough of each to keep it interesting. The opening title sequence is very indicative of the progress of this movie. It's a journey into through some very interesting gates. The journey takes the viewer through a series of rich and compelling scenes, all of which I would like to have explored more thoroughly. At times the shots are so textured and involving that you can almost feel the coarse fibers of the 300 year old pages, taste the whiskey and cigarettes on the breath of one of the movies' many antagonists, or smell the damp streets of Paris after a downpour.

Although the supporting characters pale in comparison to Depp's masterful use of expression and body language there is a surprising and entrancing performance by Emmanuelle Seigner as "The Girl"---who is totally believable, but only after disbelief has been suspended.

Check this movie out and you will see what I mean. Believe me!


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review of "The Ninth Gate" | 8 comments (8 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Ooh. Culture. :) Hopefully this'... (none / 0) (#2)
by Serf on Mon Mar 13, 2000 at 09:34:33 PM EST

Serf voted 1 on this story.

Ooh. Culture. :) Hopefully this'll be out on VCD here sometime soon so I can see it....

good review, what do others think?... (none / 0) (#1)
by ramses0 on Mon Mar 13, 2000 at 10:04:48 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

good review, what do others think?
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

I've had a few people on one of the... (none / 0) (#3)
by locutus074 on Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 03:26:54 AM EST

locutus074 voted 1 on this story.

I've had a few people on one of the mailing lists that I was on say that it was terrible. One said, don't waste your money. Another said that a stranger on the street came up to him and told him not to see it. Yet another list member said, "It was so intriguing they forgot to write an ending to the movie."

For those of you wondering of the plot, the website has a plot summary available. Warning: At the end of the second page, it appears as though there is a BIG spoiler, although it doesn't give the whole ending away.

I'm curious now. I want to go see it.
"If you haven't gotten where you're going,
you aren't there yet." --George Carlin

Another review (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by rusty on Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 08:57:49 AM EST

Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post utterly panned this movie. An excerpt from his review (I'm not making this up!):
"What a dog! ARRRRRRFFFFFFFFF! What utter spewing mewling nonsense."
I dunno, Stephen, why don't you tell us how you *really* feel? Stop holding back!

Not the real rusty
Re: Another review (none / 0) (#5)
by fluffy grue on Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 01:56:33 PM EST

Wow, so much for professional movie reviewers being, well, professional...
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Another review (none / 0) (#6)
by rongen on Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 09:17:35 PM EST

Well, everybody is entitled to an opinon! I sure wish the Washington Post would pay me for mine! :)

The reviewer's chief criticism seems to be that... well, I am not sure what it was... (yes, I am reviewing the review!). But it seems he didn't like the movie too much. Fair enough.

I'll be the first to admit that this movie isn't well suited for those who enjoy typical Hollywood movies (roll titles, boy meets girl, car chase, gunplay, sex, Al Pacino yelling, gunplay, roll credits) but I don't go to movies for the plot, or to watch people O.D. on testosterone. Most movies are pretty weak when it comes to a plot anyway, so I want something else when I go. Also, it was a little unrealistic... but hey, too much realism is either depressing or boring! :) I don't want to see a movie about a guy like me (cut to a shot of me bathed in the glow of a cheap monitor). Rather, I want a high quality production, maybe a unique perspective on an old tale, and a dash of adventure, excitement! A touch of the occult doesn't hurt either.

What I really thought while watching this is that it was the work of an experienced and masterful director, just enough of "everything" to be subtly exciting, nothing over the top. Clichés were used, sure, but sparingly and with a sense of fun (I don't really think it was Polanski's intent to tell the "truth" about Satan worship, etc, it was just a plot device).
read/write http://www.prosebush.com
[ Parent ]

Two words: Watch Repulsion (none / 0) (#7)
by rusty on Tue Mar 14, 2000 at 10:59:53 PM EST

If you haven't seen it, and you liked 9th Gate, rent "Repulsion." You seem to be mostly swayed by Polanski's directorial talent, and IMO there's no better example of that. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Two words: Watch Repulsion (none / 0) (#8)
by rongen on Wed Mar 15, 2000 at 08:48:10 AM EST

[y]ou seem to be mostly swayed by Polanski's directorial talent

Yes, that's what did it for me. It just seemed so "well done". If the movie was code I would say it was elegant. :)

Thanks for the viewing tip, I'll check it out.
read/write http://www.prosebush.com
[ Parent ]

review of "The Ninth Gate" | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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