Die Blechtrommel

I saw Elizabeth Wenger on the KPIX morning news doing the weather report.  I thought that she had left forever after having her baby.  I went out to the library to grade some papers, and I ran into a former student who told me that she took a class with me a long time ago.  I bought a Star Wars shirt for eight dollars.  I heard the news that Joe Garagiola had died at age 90.  When I finally returned home from work, I watched a bit of Angie Dickinson on the Tonight Show from 1981.  I bought a slice of pizza and sat down to watch “The Tin Drum.”  I originally saw this movie decades ago.  It didn’t have the same impact it had a long time ago, especially after Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” but it was still good to see it again.  The concept of a three-year old who decided to stop growing was interesting.  It seems that a lot of people decide to stop growing, although usually it’s emotional and intellectual growth.  This kid named Oskar was really bratty about that tin drum of his.  He shrieked at a high pitch that would shatter glass, not quite like Ella Fitzgerald in the old Memorex commercials.  I thought the kid would use his ability as a weapon much more than he did.  It looked like he was impossible to deal with in school.  Oskar should have outgrown that little toy drum.  I think the only actor I recognized from outside this movie was Charles Aznavour.  I kept thinking that he should have watched over Oskar more carefully.  Also, he should have left the country.  How was he making a living?  He was giving things away.  The women, from Anna to Agnes to Maria to Lina to Roswitha, seem to have sex quite often, and we’re not sure who the father is of the children.  One of the thoughts I had was that I wouldn’t want to lick some powder that someone else had spit on.  The Nazi rally made me think of a scene from Fellini, and perhaps “The Great Dictator,” too.  Somehow, I didn’t feel that the transformation of the scene into waltzing dancers was really that funny.  The one thing I thought about Roswitha was that she shouldn’t have insisted on getting that cup of coffee.  I’m glad that I don’t drink it.  Oskar is almost like a Forrest Gump because he’s there at a battle on September 1, 1939, and he’s there for Normandy.  I couldn’t understand why Alfred didn’t get rid of his pin immediately.  Why did he put it in his mouth?  One of the things this movie was known for was the obscenity controversy.  All of this material seems extremely tame when compared to what people can readily see over the Internet these days.  Perhaps the most sickening sight was the horse’s head with the eels in it.  I don’t think I could eat any of those eels.  The Blu-ray edition of this film was very good.  The movie looked as bright and clear as when I first saw it years ago.  I read the Roger Ebert review of the film from June 27, 1980.  He gave the movie only two out of four stars, mainly because he hated the character of Oskar, who wasn’t innocent but calculating and egocentric.  I think that is more or less true because children are self-centered.  I think, though, that there is more to the story than just Oskar.  I think the movie did get too much praise during its original release.  It’s not the masterpiece that some people have suggested.  I can think of many World War II movies I’d rather see, but I still think this one is worth watching because it came from Volker Schlöndorff. I think I’d rather see “The Great Dictator” again, in fact.  The movie from Schlöndorff that I would like to see someday is “A Free Woman.” Something about this edition of “The Tin Drum” was that its running time is 163 minutes instead of the 142 minutes noted in the past.  I couldn’t tell the difference in my memory.  Of course, it’s been a long time since I last saw this film, and I first saw it in the 1980s.  I think that when I was younger, this film was really engrossing, and I just about couldn’t get enough of it.  Last night, the movie felt a bit too long.  I read the basketball score from the Oracle Arena, with the Warriors winning their game against the Clippers.  I could barely sleep during the night.  The news coming from Belgium is disturbing, along with the reactions from the politicians.  I watched the end of “Mysterious Island” on one of the movie channels as I prepared for my morning’s work.  Some of the people who died on March 24 include Jules Verne (1905), Ray Goulding (1990), John Hersey (1993), Richard Fleischer (2006), Richard Widmark (2008), and Robert Culp (2010).  Today is a birthday for Louie Anderson (63) and Tommy Hilfiger (65).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 24, the O’Jays reached Number One on the singles chart in 1973 with “Love Train.” In 1975, Chuck Wepner fought Muhammad Ali in Richfield, Ohio, going fifteen rounds in the title fight.  In 1986, “Out of Africa” won the Academy Award for Best Picture, while William Hurt, Geraldine Page, Don Ameche, and Anjelica Huston won the acting Oscars. In 1997, Harold Melvin died in Philadelphia at age 57.

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