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Anthony Hopkins reads poetry for Siegfried and Roy

If you think Harmony Korine is weird, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh says you ain’t seen nothing yet

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Anthony Hopkins reads poetry for Siegfried and Roy

Last week my colleague — er, boss — Mark Harris wondered about the merits of recommending a movie he knew ”nine out of ten of you will hate,” and with that, suggested that you all run out to see ”julien donkey-boy,” a movie he admitted ”is hell to sit through.” In fact, Mark practically threatened that if you don’t go see this movie, you will somehow be responsible for supporting Mayor Giuliani’s insane — and inane — response to the controversial exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

Now I hope you agree that censorship is a very, very bad thing — or that if you disagree, you at least have the sense not to admit it. But I think that just as there is a danger that we will, as Mark says, become roped into the Adam Sandler madness, we can also become sucked into a kind of if-it-doesn’t-hurt, it-isn’t-worth-seeing snobbism. (Just for the record, sitting through an Adam Sandler movie does hurt me.) Think that leaves you nothing to see? You’re so wrong. I’ve found the perfect solution, a movie that incorporates mass appeal, animals (no donkeys, sorry), poetry, and even an Oscar-winning actor. Plus, the embarrassment of waiting in line will cause you enough pain to allow you to feel you have suffered for the cause. This new work of genius? ”Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box.”

How does it measure up to ”donkey boy”? That film is shot on digital video. Well, that’s impressive and all, but ”Magic Box” is shot in no less than 3D, and shows in an IMAX theater, and you don’t get a lot more trailblazing than that. Mark says ”donkey-boy”’s ”use of shock tactics can lead to silliness.” Believe me, nothing better illustrates this than the tour of Seigfreid and Roy’s home, which shows there can be a vast disparity between decorating and taste. And can ”donkey-boy” boast a narration of William Blake’s ”Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright”? I think not. Not to mention that the man who reads it — and performs the running voice-over — is none other than Anthony Hopkins. How much more art do you need? The man who worked for Merchant and Ivory is now doing duties for Siegfried and Roy.

If watching tigers swim in S&R’s swimming pool and lying beside Roy while he meditates on a bed surrounded by candles isn’t enough to do the trick, just tell yourself that you’re going to see a documentary. Believe me, you won’t experience half as much weirdness and wonder in any small independent film as you will at ”The Magic Box.” As Mark himself said, ”Crap can even be art? so the next time you hear about something you think isn’t your taste, go. There’s nothing better than the shock of liking something you thought you’d hate.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.