Monday, August 13, 2018

The Meg

Strongly tempted to pair this one with The Island for a "Chinese movies about danger in the middle of the ocean" post, but it's really not Chinese enough, despite the setting, a fair chunk of the cast, and the fact that it certainly seems like a fair chunk of the money came from there. It is, at any rate, probably a better attempt at appealing to "the world market" than most movies clearly made with the intent of making a splash on both the American and Chinese box office charts, and it seems to have done all right by that measurement. Tough week to open in China, too, between The Island coming out and that remake of Brewster's Millions presumably going strong.

I'm mildly amused by the slight name change from the original novel Meg, and I kind of wonder if it's a reflection of how we browse different media. In a bookstore or library, Meg is going to not just be in a horror or sci-fi section, but even the spine is going to have a giant shark on it, so you know what to expect. Someone just standing at the box office of the local AMC, though, has no context, and might very well assume that "Meg" is some indie drama about a young woman discovering her own independence. "The Meg" is clearly talking about a thing or an idea that isn't necessarily a common term, so a blind buy at least has you in the general ballpark.

I must also admit, I'm mildly disappointed that there weren't more 3D shows for this one - almost none of the premium screens were 3D and most of the 3D shows there were happened at off-peak-hours. Yeah, it's clearly a conversion job, but underwater stuff makes for good use of depth, and there are a few other nifty uses. Not necessarily worth paying extra for, but worth the upgrade if you've got A-List.

The Meg

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 11 August 2018 in AMC Assembly Row #4 (first-run, RealD DCP)

Folks have been trying to make Steve Alten's novel Meg into a movie since it came out twenty years ago, and you kind of have to wonder what took so long, because it doesn't seem that complicated - there's no piece of it that doesn't come from basically every B-movie about a sea monster ever made, and it's not like you've got to create a whole new monster. Every special effects house probably already has a shark model in their files, after all. That The Meg is kind of an assembly-line monster movie is okay - it's fun to apply the latest technology to these old standards every few years - but what exactly got this stuck in development hell?

It starts, give or take a flashback, with a theory Professor Zhang (Winston Chao) believes that the bottom of the Philippine Trench is actually much deeper than it appears, and that the previously mapped bottom is actually a thermocline layer whose abrupt change in temperature reflects radar and sonar, and he's convinced a tech billionaire (Rainn Wilson) to pay for an underwater research lab. The good news is that he's right; the bad news is that the first submersible sent down gets damaged. Zhang and the station's chief of operations (Cliff Curtis) are able to marine-rescue expert Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) out of retirement - though Zhang's marine biologist daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) attempts to mount a rescue first - but all those vehicles punching through the thermocline has created a hole that the previously-unseen life in that isolated environment can swim through. Like, say, a megalodon, a sixty-foot shark thought to be extinct for two million years with an insatiable appetite and no predators in today's ocean.

Though the giant shark is obviously the main attraction, the filmmakers pull a nifty trick in that the first act, before "The Meg" even shows up, is kind of the most fun. It introduces a nice ensemble of smart, capable people who can bounce off each other without it all seeming snippy or making light of a situation, right down to Statham not actually winking at the camera as Jonas recites the expected way for a situation to play out. More importantly, director Jon Turteltaub and three credited screenwriters have ample opportunity to go the "this stuff was hidden from us for a reason!" route, but they almost never do, and there's real delight found in exploration and adventure: The submersible crew (Jessica McNamee, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, and Masi Oka) are upbeat, the undersea landscape looks cool (although it could use a few more obviously bizarre species), and there's great fun to be had in both the flashy equipment Morris's money has paid for and the decidedly manual techniques Jonas uses to get past a damaged hatch. There's even a couple good action sequences, and you don't see the megalodon until the climax of the that leg's last one..

Full review at EFC.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Island

Only one trailer for another Chinese movie before this one, but it was for Project Gutenberg, which comes out the week of my birthday and features Chow Yun-fat in what seems like his first "coolest damn criminal on Earth" role in quite a while, and, guys, I am there for that. I knew he was filming it and hoped it was heading stateside, but the confirmation felt so very good.

Will it get the same sort of audience here that this one did? I kind of doubt it; this theater was pretty much packed by the time the movie started. Maybe it's a smaller theater, since my tendency to sit in the center of the last row of the front section put me in the second row rather than the third, but that usually gives me a lot of space, and there were folks right next to me and in front of me. Using their phones, unfortunately, but I feel kind of weird telling people to shut their phones off when I've got a notepad out, especially when I'm the one guy in a Chinese film screening that needs the subtitles. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a huge hit in China, since Huang Bo and Wang Baoqiang are pretty big stars in a pretty decent movie, and I think Shu Qi is too. She's a big favorite of mine by now; she seems to get more beautiful with age, and has not only become a great comic actor, but she seems to like the weird movies a bit.

So - quite fond of this one, even if it is kind of drawn out.

Yi chu haoxi (The Island '18)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 10 August 2018 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, DCP)

I am not sure where, exactly, the urge to label films as either comedy or drama comes from, but it certainly doesn't do Huang Bo's The Island any favors - that perspective makes it seem like a high-concept comedy that gets too grim or an apocalyptic take on Lord of the Flies that has too much slapstick. Seen as a whole, it's still kind of shaggy, but that's not necessarily a bad tradeoff for a movie this offbeat and oddly ambitious to make.

It's ambitious enough to start in space, where a couple of asteroids colliding has one headed in the general direction of Earth. This is not necessarily a big problem for Ma Jin (Huang); he figures that poor folks like him and foster brother Xing (Zhang Yixing) have the least to lose. A far smaller disaster - their car breaking down - almost has them miss their employer's team-building exercise, which starts out on an amphibious bus. While they're on the water, the meteor hits and the 100-foot tsunami lands them on an island, where Boss Zhang (Yu Hewei) finds that his leadership is maybe not of as much practical use as that of bus driver Dicky Wang (Wang Baoqiang), whose experience includes the army and animal training, so is at least practical in some ways. Ma Jin has other things on his mind than taking sides in that conflict, too: Just before the cataclysm, he discovered that the lottery ticket in his pocket won the jackpot, worth 60 million RMB (about nine million US dollars) - more than enough to pay off his debts and give him the courage to act on his attraction to co-worker Wu Shanshan (Shu Qi), if they get off the island and the world is still there.

To a certain extent, the comedy and drama of that situation sometimes take a back seat to how surreal Huang's vision can be. Craft like the film's "Surfing Duck" are usually used in rivers and harbors, and even before the wave hits and the van proves unusually water-tight, the sight of it out on the open sea seems peculiar. Huang (directing his first feature) doesn't stop with that, either; each stage of the movie introduces something even stranger, from a polar bear to a wrecked cruise ship to the unexplained sort of rain often used as a sign of the paranormal. For an actor directing his first feature, Huang is terrifically adept in harnessing this strangeness - not only do he and his crew often make these shots surprisingly beautiful, but he can build them to a point where the audience can feel how something conventional plays as almost inconceivable to the castaways, but there are little bits (like a homemade antenna that feels like a twitchy, scrambling alien) strewn throughout.

Full review at EFC.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 10 August 2018 - 16 August 2018

Late summer means a really random set of movies coming out, from dumpings to not knowing what to do with something to "this might be an awards contender but maybe not".

  • Since movies aren't listed by genre at the multiplex, Meg the novel has become The Meg the movie, with Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, and Ruby Rose crewing an international underwater research facility who are set upon by a gigantic, prehistoric shark. No idea whether the book was as goofy as the film looks to be, but I know a bunch of people that swear by it. It's at Fresh Pond, Jordan's Furniture (Imax 2D), the Embassy, Boston Common (including RealD), Fenway (including RPX, RealD, and the two in tandem), the Seaport (in Icon-X including 3D), South Bay (including Imax 2D and RealD), Assembly Row (including Imax 2D and RealD), Revere (including XPlus and RealD), and the SuperLux. If your taste in horror is more creepy things in the shadows than giant monsters, there's Slender Man, with Joey King stuck in a movie about the first urban legend to primarily exist on the Internet. That one's at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Revere.

    Intersecting-storylines-with-furry-friends movie Dog Days had an early opening this week, starting on Wednesday and playing Boston Common, South Bay, the Seaport, Assembly Row, and Revere. Crazy Rich Asians had a preview last week and openis for real this Wednesday at Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, South Bay, Assembly Row, Revere, and the SuperLux.

    There are multiple anime classics opening this weekend, with Ghibli-Fest screenings of Grave of the Fireflies at Fenway and Revere (dubbed Sunday/Wednesday and subtitled Monday), while the Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door movie plays the Kendall, Boston Common, and Fenway (subtitled Wednesday/dubbed Thursday). The Hangover plays Monday night at the Seaport, and there's a one-night premiere of Blood Fest at Revere on Tuesday. The Elvis '68 Comeback Special plays Fenway, Assembly Row, and Revere on Thursday.
  • Spike Lee's latest, BlacKkKlansman, tells the story of a black detective who poses as a racial extremist over the phone, necessitating a partner when it comes to make contact. It's opening at The Coolidge Corner Theatre, the Capitol, Kendall Square, the Embassy, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay (including Dolby Cinema), Assembly Row, and Revere.

    The Coolidge also opens The Miseducation of Cameron Post, with Chloe Grace Montez as the title character, whose conservative parents send their daughter off for conversion therapy and accidentally introduces her to an actual gay community for the first time.

    At midnight, the Coolidge continues "Organic Panic", with a killer plant double feature of Island of the Doomed & Dr. Terror's House of Horrors on Friday and Troll 2 on Saturday, shockingly, without anybody involved showing up as a guest. The Wizard of Oz is the Big Screen Classic on Monday, with critic Monica Castillo handling the seminar before and after. There's also a Cinema Jukebox presentation of Footloose on Thursday, with the Brookline Music School having a performance before that one runs. All of the special presentations are on 35mm this week.
  • Kendall Square has IFFBoston selection Nico, 1988, which is a biography of a musician trying to rebuild a relationship with her son in her last days. There's a wider release for Puzzle, which co-stars Kelly Macdonald an Irrfan Khan as an unlikely team of competitive jigsaw puzzle solvers. It also plays at West Newton Cinema and Boston Common.
  • Another IFFBoston alum plays The Brattle Theatre, with Hirokazu Kore-eda's The Third Murder playing all weekend, Monday evening, and Monday & Tuesday afternoons. It's pretty good, although it's less a quiet Kore-eda piece than a Very Serious Murder story. That schedule leaves a bit crowded, but there's still room for a benefit screening of Ang Larawan on Saturday afternoon, a Rita Hawyorth double feature of Affair in Trinidad (on 35mm) & Gilda on Tuesday. That leaves two evenings for "Heroic!", with The Witch on Wednesday, and an "All About Evil" double feature on Thursday, featuring 35mm screenings of All About Eve and Showgirls, with critic Adam Nayman introducing both and signing copies of his book about the latter between shows.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts continues to split "Heroic!" with the Brattle, with screenings of RBG (Friday/Sunday; the second sold-out), Terminator 2 (Friday), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Saturday/subtitled), and Advanced Style (Sunday). They also have their own Casanova's Europe series going, with this week's selections Barry Lyndon (Saturday) and Fellini's Casanova (Thursday). They also show Sadaf Foroughi's Ava on Thursday.
  • Apple Fresh Pond opens Vishwaroopam 2 in three languages, with at least the Hindi and Tamil screenings having subtitles (not sure about the Telugu). There's also Telugu family drama Srinivasa Kalyanam (through Monday), Malayalam film Koode (Saturday), Telugu romantic comedy Geetha Govindam (starting Tuesday), and two more Hindi movies starting Wednesday: Action flick Styameva Jayate with John Abraham and Gold, telling the story of India's first Olympic medal after their independence (in field hockey, which is huge there).

    Boston Common doesn't have room for BuyBust, but they do play The Island<, the directorial debut of Chinese superstar Huang Bo, who plays a guy marooned on a company team-building exercise with a winning lottery ticket in his pocket, although the world may have been wiped out by a meteor impact. It co-stars Wang Baoqiang and Shu Qi, which is a heck of a cast.
  • The Somerville Theatre has Fantasia Festival selection Summer of '84, a genuinely fun flick from the makers of Turbo Kid that follows a group of kids whose leader is certain that their neighbor is a serial killer. It's not just the "midnight special" on Friday and Saturday, but also plays at 10pm through Sunday with 12:45pm matinees on the weekend. They've also got a "Silents, Please!" program of 35mm Laurel & Hardy Shorts with Jeff Rapsis on the organ on Sunday. They drop down to three screens come Monday, but still have room for Wednesday's "Play It Cool" Burt Reynolds double feature of Smokey and the Bandit (35mm) and his latest, The Last Movie Star, on DCP.

    They push The Spy Who Dumped Me, Three Identical Strangers, and Won't You Be My Neighbor to The Capitol, their sister cinema in Arlington, come Monday, and that theater also welcomes Jeff to accompany Constance Talmadge playing a dual role in Her Sister from Paris on Thursday.
  • With the Red Sox out of town, Fandango is presenting "Movie Night at Fenway Park" on Tuesday with Jurassic Park. Not sure exactly what the setup is, but I'm guessing you get to sit in the loge box seats and it plays way up on the big video board, which is probably as close as us city dwellers who don't have cars get to going to a drive-in, for better or worse. You get to walk the warning track before the movie, too. (Speaking of drive-ins, the Leicester Drive-In appears to still be showing Mission: Impossible 6 on film Friday & Saturday, and if I get their Facebook posting right, so is A Quiet Place after it and the double feature of E.T. & Jaws on their third screen. I guess just one of the three can handle digital, maybe?)
  • I think I listed this weekend's Yellow Submarine shows at The Regent Theatre as playing last week (or maybe it just keeps getting held over), but it's showing on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening, with pre-show warmups, post-film Q&As, and more.
  • Still lots of outdoor movies listed at Joe's Free Films, with Coco being the most frequent and Nocturna (at Egleston Square on Wednesday) the most off the beaten path.

I've got BlacKkKlansman, The Meg, The Island, and some silents to see, and I'm not sure what else I can fit in.

Along with the Gods, Parts 1 & 2

Still time to see Part 2 in AMC Boston Common if you can catch a matinee today, but you might have to catch up on the first one first, so good luck with that. Sorry, I'm bee watching a crap-ton of other Asian movies and back to work.

I recommend this as a two-night deal, though i suppose it could work as a marathon. I streamed the first via Amazon on Monday night, lucky enough that it was $5 to rent or buy, so this is the first movie I only own digitally. Seems wrong not to have something on the shelf, but okay. Went to the late-ish show on Tuesday because getting to a 6:15pm show in Boston Common after working in Burlington just isn't happening. It was the first ticket I bought using AMC's new Stubs A-List level, but those apparently require photo ID, which I didn't have on me, so I wound up buying a second one. Fortunately, Tuesday is $5 day, so it wasn't too big a hit.

Anyway, a big two-part Korean movie is not a bad way to ease myself out of Fantasia mode, even if it pushes getting everything written up back a bit.

Singwa hamgge: Joewa Beol (Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 6 August 2018 in Jay's Living Room (catch-up, Prime Video HD)

The thing that will likely throw non-Korean viewers about Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds is that it's not as much about the heroic fireman journeying through the afterlife on the way to potential reincarnation as one would surmise from the way he's centered on the posters - or indeed, as much as it probably should be. The first half of a two-part series, its plot is torn between Ja-hong's story and setting up The Last 49 Days, and even together that's not enough, although the filmmakers deliver enough impressive visions of hell to keep the audience's interest.

Make no mistake, firefighter Kim Ja-Hong (Cha Tae-hyun) died when he was supposed to, on 28 April 2017, saving a little girl while who was trapped in a burning high-rise, leaving behind a sickly mother (Ye Soo-jung) and a brother, Soo-hong (Kim Dong-wook), intent on finishing law school after his military service. Ja-hong has lived a good enough life to be classified as a Paragon, eligible for immediate reincarnation should he pass the seven trials in 49 days, which is good news for his Guardians and advocates as well - he would be the 48th Paragon that Gang-rim (Ha Jung-woo), Deok-choon (Kim Hyang-gi), and Hewonmak (Ju Ji-hoon) had shepherded to a new life, one short of the number necessary for them to reincarnate as well. But even Paragons can fail the trials, and Gang-rim must soon journey back to the living world because there appears to be a vengeful spirit connected to Ja-hong, and its existence has their 49 days speeding up and the group beset by hell-ghouls.

Ja-Hong's life is what drives the story here, and while we should all aspire to be considered a paragon when we die, it can be a little hard to wring a lot of drama out of that. There's a pattern set early of the trials uncovering that Ja-hong has sinned in the past, but generally for a noble reason, and he's such a good person that he can basically be waved past one or two stops but so out of his element that he can't directly contribute to his own defense (his trials are not punishing tasks but bits of courtroom drama with prosecutors, judges, and exhibits). It's fortunate that actor Cha Tae-hyun is able to project a very genuine-seeming, modest decency in the flashbacks and adds an unstated feeling of trauma to his time in the world of the dead; scenes that seem like that they could entirely be Ja-hong protesting too much about not being that good a man or being kind enough to be insufferable work a heck of a lot better than the dry going through the motions that seems like a straightforward acceptance of him being a Paragon would lead to.

Full review at EFC.

Singwa hamgge: Ingwa Yeon (Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 7 August 2018 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, DCP)

The first part of the Along with the Gods two-parter, The Two Worlds, was good-looking but didn't quite have a story operatic enough to match its visual ambition, but it's clear right away that The Last 49 Days won't have the same problems - its Paragon isn't nearly as saintly as the one that came before, and all the things hinted at by the end of the last movie are primed to explode. It's not entirely a leap forward, as it winds up a bit weaker in places the other movie was strong, but it's enough of an improvement to make the whole a good combo.

(Spoilers ahead for those who have not yet seen The Two Worlds)

Full review at EFC.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Seriously, everyone else at eFilmCritic - it's on me to review this? You all do see that I've been kind of busy in Montreal, right? Sheesh!

Heck, I'd barely gotten back to my apartment from Quebec when I turned around to head back to the South Station area so I could see it on the wide Icon-X screen in the Seaport, and though that may not be ideal - I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the bus and I think all the poutine I ate up there waited until I had crossed the border to form a big rock in my stomach. But, still, a lot of fun.

For all that continuity worked out well here, though, I'd still like Mission: Impossible to go back to the original arc of the series, where they brought in guys with really distinctive styles in Brian De Palma and John Woo, before it sort of settled at Skydance and Bad Robot and hiring folks like J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird who, though talented, are each kind of Just A Guy compared to those two (I don't know if McQuarrie is still Just A Guy, but he kind of was before Rogue Nation). Find someone great, like Kathryn Bigelow or Johnnie To or Kim Ji-woon or Takashi Miike or David Fincher, guys who can use Tom Cruise and a bunch of Paramount's money to make a great big thing that's clearly part of their filmography, rather than getting a boost from doing another entry in a series.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 5 August 2018 in Showcase Icon The Seaport #6 (first-run, Icon-X DCP)

As much as Mission: Impossible has been one of the most reliable action-movie franchises of the past twenty years, that reliability has arguably come at the cost of the distinctive voices Brian De Palma and John Woo brought to the series - J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and Christopher McQuarrie are all talented guys, but it's fair to suggest that they didn't bring the sort of individual stamp to a movie that De Palma and Woo did, at least at that point in their careers, and bringing McQuarrie back seems like the least adventurous choice. And yet, that continuity at times seems like the biggest shift in direction the series in years, giving it an extra zing to a movie that already boasts some of the most astounding action sequences of the year.

It's been a couple of years since the events of Rogue Nation, but the IMF thwarting the plans of Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) and capturing him has not simply decapitated his organization; "The Syndicate" is now "The Apostles", but still aimed at bringing about global anarchy. Their new plan involves nukes built by anti-religious crusader Nils Debruuk (Kristoffer Joner). After a mission by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team to recover a box of missing plutonium goes awry with the reappearance of sometime-ally Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), the CIA insists on adding their own muscle, August Walker (Henry Cavill) to Hunt's team of Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) as they try to retrieve it from broker "White Widow" (Vanessa Kirby) - who has her own conditions for arranging the transfer that put Hunt in quite a spot.

There's big advantages to not starting from zero, and while McQuarrie is good about establishing what someone seeing their first M:I movie needs to know, there's something great about not having to spend time making things personal for Hunt the way that the other movies often do - in fact McQuarrie kind of uses the fact that there is bad blood between Lane and Hunt as something that can simmer in the background while pushing something much more basic forward: There's a fundamental philosophical difference between Hunt, who can't bear to sacrifice even one person for a clearly-defined greater good, and the Apostles, whose plans are apocalyptic but vague (basic "tear it down to start anew" stuff) with personal revenge being a bonus. McQuarrie does a nice job of attacking this directly, tilting the audience's sympathies toward Hunt at the personal level while still presenting how tempting pragmatism can be.

Full review at EFC.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Next Week in Tickets: Films playing Boston 3 August 2018 - 9 August 2018

It's time to see just how useless my MoviePass subscription has become while I was away!

  • This week's spy movie is The Spy Who Dumped Me, with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon as two friends who must pick up the slack when one's boring boyfriend turns out to be a secret agent and accidentally pulls her into his business. It's at the Somerville, Fresh Pond, the Embassy, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Revere, and the SuperLux. Last week's Mission: Impossible - Fallout is still everywhere, possibly still in 35mm at theLeicester Drive-In.

    This week's live-action version of Disney material is Christopher Robin, with Ewan McGregor as the grown-up human from the A.A. Milne Pooh stories, whose old toys have escaped from his imagination and come to magical life. That one's at the Capitol, Fresh Pond, The West Newton Cinema, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, Revere, and the SuperLux. Older kids may go for The Darkest Minds, the latest knock-off X-Men movie that 20th Century Fox has produced despite having the rights to the actual X-Men (and soon being part of the same company as Marvel). That one plays Fresh Pond, Boston Common, Fenway, the Seaport, South Bay, Assembly Row, and Revere.

    Crazy Rich Asians gets a head-start on next weekend, opening Wednesday at Boston Common, Fenway, and the SuperLux, while South Bay opens intersection-people-with-canines movie Dog Days.

    The new Sailor Moon: Super S movie plays dubbed on Saturday at Fenway and subtitled on Monday at Fenway & Revere. There are 20th Anniversary screenings of The Big Lebowski at Fenway, Assembly Row, and Revere on Sunday and Wednesday, if you can't wait for the Coolidge's annual party. The party-adjacent networking thing at the Seaport on Monday is Black Mass.
  • Kendall Square has a metric bunch of documentaries that played IFFBoston opening this week, all with guests at certain shows. Dark Money welcomes director Kimberly Reed and a panel of guests for the Friday 7:15pm show, expanding on the movie's themes of how untraceable corporate money is warping elections. Rachel Dretzin is there to talk about Far From the Tree, her film about parents trying to raise children who pose different challenges, on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Generation Wealth also opens, with director Lauren Greenfield visiting for the 2pm show on Sunday

    There's also McQueen, which is not about either of the Steves but fashion designer Alexander.
  • The Brattle Theatre plays Cold Water, an early work by Olivier Assayas that never had an official U.S. theatrical release, all weekend, with Virginie Ledoyen and Cyprien Fouquet as teen lovers in the 1970s.

    The Rita Hayworth Centennial continues with a double feature of You Were Never Lovelier & You'll Never Get Rich on Monday and Cover Girl on Tuesday. There's also a free screening with discussion of sustainable-agriculture documentary Forgotten Farms on Tuesday afternoon. The Heroic!: Women Who Inspire screenings for the week are a 35mm double feature of The Matrix & Edge of Tomorrow on Wednesday, and a DCP pairing of Norma Rae & 9 to 5 on Thursday
  • "Heroic!" continues at The Museum of Fine Arts, with Fargo (Friday/Saturday), Terminator 2 (Saturday), Moana (Sunday), Whale Rider (Sunday), and an outdoor "Sunset Cinema" screening of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (dubbed) on Thursday evening. Though not technically part of the series, Sadaf Foroughi's Ava fits there as well. The first weekend of the month means that there is also an "On the Fringe" show on Friday, which for August is a 35mm print of Gummo.
  • The midnight program at The Coolidge Corner Theatre shifts to "Organic Panic" for August, with a 35mm print of Little Shop of Horrors on Friday and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on Saturday. Monday's Big Screen Classic is Roman Holiday, with a seminar before and after the film is screened on 35mm. There's a special screening of Life on the V: The Story of V66 with director Eric Green on Tuesday (the movie about Boston's 1980s music video channel is in the screening room, so it will probably sell out), and a 35mm Rewind! screening of Con Air on Thursday, with screenwriter Scott Rosenberg facing interrogation afterward.
  • Apple Fresh Pond has a new group of Indian movies, including Hindi courtroom drama Mulk and Fanney Khan, which stars Anil Kapoor as a singer who wants to make his daughter a star, and also features Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. There's also Telugu spy thriller Goodachari and romantic comedy Chi La Sow.

    Boston Common continues the very fun Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings for those who like Chinese action and Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days for those more into contemporary Korean fantasy.
  • No midnights at The Somerville Theatre this weekend, but they've got a nifty Wednesday "Play It Cool II" double features of She Done Him Wrong and Go, both on 35mm.
  • Apparently last week's Yellow Submarine shows at The Regent Theatre had to be rescheduled, but it's showing on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening, with pre-show warmups, post-film Q&As, and more.
  • On top of the one at the MFA, Joe's Free Films shows plenty of free outdoor movies, with multiples for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ferdinand.

I think I'll not see movies for my last couple days in Montreal, then catch up on Mission: Impossible before starting on other things after I get home. Since you've got to ease out of Fantasia slowly, I'll probably do an Along with the Gods home/theater double feature.Ne

Fantasia 2018.21: What A Man Wants, Madeline's Madeline, Big Brother, and Saint Bernard Syndicate

Day 21 is the official closing night of Fantasia, and it included an email reminder that, really, you're not getting into Mandy with your pass, although we had been told that they would be admitting press to Big Brother, and tickets could actually be refunded if you came to the box office with it and your pass. I never got around to it, but it's not like I'm in a position to really resent having paid an extra ten bucks Canadian.

Most of the day was spent catching up on things that played earlier, including a pretty specific lesson in maybe not watching stuff unless actually looking forward to it or curious. Having kind of endured a Josephine Decker double feature at Fantasia two years ago, and then something similar that she appeared in at IFFBoston last year, I was pretty much in "nope, not again" territory when Madeline's Madeline was booked for IFFBoston in April, happy to have my scheduling simplified. Then I saw it was playing here, and not really against anything I hadn't seen. I begged off Monday because if it ran a little late, it might bump into Tokyo Vampire Hotel (not necessarily great prioritization itself), but Wednesday, it was either see it or kind of feel like I'm stealing my press pass. I realize that this is irrational, but I always say that they don't give me the pass not to review movies. Of course, going into it with that attitude, I was pretty predisposed to notice everything I didn't like, much more than the many things it does well.

But, hey, they let us into the world premiere of Big Brother, with director Kam Ka-wai (right) on hand to introduce it and answer questions. Donnie Yen couldn't be here, as he's currently shooting something in Paris, although he sent a video apologizing (dude: never apologize for being in Paris) and hoping we enjoyed what was pretty clearly a labor of love for him. I did find myself amused that the parent who is very concerned about his son going to a foreign university specifically mentions Boston, and that in the film Yen's character gets in trouble at school in Hong Kong and is sent to America to get straightened out, while in real life he got in trouble at school in the Boston area and was sent back to China to get straightened out.

No, I will not rest until my town claims him as the favored son he should be.

After that, going across the street to DeSève for The Saint Bernard Syndicate was kind of odd - it started late because the previous film ran long, which got us a little restless in line despite the fact that the folks here were either the folks who didn't want to do the alleged insanity of Mandy or were chill about not getting in. It turned out to be an odd way to end closing night of the festival, very dry and kind of ambivalent at points.

But, of course, that's not really the end, as there was a bonus day added when the full line-up came out. Next up are Piercing (assuming dialing into work is done by then), The Field Guide to Evil, What Keeps You Alive, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, and Brothers' Nest. Detective Dee 3 is pretty darn good, and The Fortress isn't bad either.

"Poisson de Mars"

Seen 1 August 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, digital)

So, there were no English subtitles on this, which means I didn't catch the bit about how everyone was planning a practical joke on the poor depressed guy. I thought the final scene was about nobody wanting to eat the pie because the mother was known to be a terrible cook or something.

I laughed at times, based on what I could catch with my terrible high school French and sight gags, but you'll understand if I don't actually rate this!

Ba-lam-ba-lam-ba-lam (What a Man Wants)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, digital)

Somewhere in What a Man Wants is a really delightful farce that knows what to do with its women and plays with the dissatisfaction at its center in a way that heightens both its farce and possibilities. Instead, it bogs down for a while before getting to the really fun parts, and reduces interesting women to a way for the male characters to come around to something conventional.

It's still above-average, in large part due to a cast that can handle fully situation with sexy aplomb and also shift to something serious without losing what makes them funny. There's a good feeling of melancholy to bits of its setting, but not enough to make things mainly sad, and some genuinely great comic bits. The opening is a great efshort on its own, for instance, and the middle segment when things start to really click into place is brilliant - it probably should have been more of the movie.

Madeline's Madeline

* * (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival: Camera Lucida, DCP)

Well, that's me done with Josephine Decker.

I don't want to be. There are some terrific performances to be found in this movie, a pretty decent core story, and moments that feel like something approaching self-awareness. As with her previous work, I can see great talent and potential there. I want to say nice things.

But she can't just get out of her own way! She's not as terrible as she once was of loving it when shots go in and out of focus, but she still does it a lot, and it's not as revealing as she seems to think. Instead, it just gives me a worse headache than any 3D or hyperactively-edited film ever has. She also puts characters at the center whom the audience recognizes as being full of shit but lets the rest of the cast lag behind, and frustratingly backs away from the film's, brief, beautiful clarity in the last act to finish on more improvised, theatrical nonsense.

It makes a certain amount of sense - Madeline is not "cured" of what ails her at that point - but it goes on and on, the work of a filmmaker who has just not found the point where abstraction helps to say what you mean, rather than takes away from it.

Taai si hing (Big Brother)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2018 in Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

Big Brother is corn of the highest order, and it probably won't be long before Hong Kong film fans watch it with more than a bit of irony, laughing at just how unrefined it can be at times. And that's fine, if not necessarily what the filmmakers were going for, because while the script is heavy-handed, the cast plays it with a relatively light touch, so it's an entertainingly cliched uplifting teacher movie rather than a sneer-worthy one.

The new teacher is Henry Chen Xia (Donnie Yen Ji-dan), who has never held the job before, but what is apparently an exceptional reference letter convinces principal Patrick Lin (Dominic Lam Ka-wah) to hire him as Liberal Studies teacher and assign him as homeroom teacher to Class F-6B, where all of the kids that the system has more or less given up on are. Five stand out - Jack Li (Jack Lok Ming-kit), who is always checked out because he's supporting his grandmother with his part-time job; Gladys Wang (Gladys Li), who wants to be a Formula One driver but whose father ignores her in favor of her younger brother; Faiyaz "Gordon" Ahnan (Gordon Lau Chiu-kin), a third-generation Pakistani immigrant with a talent for music; and twins Chris Guan (Chris Tong Kwan-yiu), a passionate gamer, and Bruce Guan (Bruce Tong Kwan-chi), who keeps their alcoholic father off Chris's back despite his own ADHD. The school on the verge of closing because of its low test scores, and a mobbed-up local developer is already making plans to buy the land after that happens.

Henry Chen hasn't always been a teacher, of course, but it's oddly relieving that the revelation that he's not some sort of undercover cop or a guy with some sort of secret agenda never comes. His backstory is instead pretty much what one would expect, and it allows writer Chan Tai-li and director Kam Ka-wai to not waste much time on Henry being won over, and a quick montage of him reading the students' files lets them quickly explain what their issues are. There's nothing in the film that is treated as a particular revelation - most folks watching it, whether in Hong Kong or elsewhere, will recognize these as issues that they're aware of but don't give much thought to because they're out of sight, and even the somewhat more arcane question of "teaching to the test" is handled without a lot of speechifying. There are, perhaps, a few instances where the filmmakers could have built things in a way that has them practicing what they preach a bit more: Gladys's story involves her not being given attention because she's a girl, and the movie follows along by only having one out of four or five characters of any import be female, and while Henry's classes celebrate critical thinking and broad knowledge over focusing on the MGE, the students' part of the climax is basically about passing the test and not how they manage it.

Full review at EFC.

Sankt Bernhard Syndikatet (The St. Bernard Syndicate)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 1 August 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

The director of The St. Bernard Syndicate has spent much of his career doing "satirical documentaries", and one wonders if he may have had that in mind for this film as well. The subject matter is certainly ripe for such an approach, but in a bit of irony, it turns out that taking a scripted approach allows him and his collaborators to hit upon something that feels a little bit more real.

In the film, Frederik (Frederik Cilius) has what sounds like a solid business idea - not just breeding selling St. Bernard dogs in China, where the middle class is exploding and the breed is a potential novelty - but creating a subscription revenue stream by handling food, veterinary appointments, and the like. His family has been breeding the dogs for generations, but his father (Flemming Sørensen) refuses to invest, saying he has no head for business. The only person from his old, "elite" private school interested is Rasmus (Rasmus Bruun), but he isn't nearly so wealthy as Frederik thinks and has just had a rather disturbing medical diagnosis. Maybe that's why he accompanies Frederik and his big, friendly dog Dollar to Chungqing, looking for adventure and accomplishment, nursing a crush on translator Beyond (Li Boyang) and negotiating with local investor Mr. Ling (Lee Liheng).

It would be easy, perhaps, to make a movie about the dodgy business on all sides as people from around the world try to exploit China's new prosperity, and there's a lot of the eyebrow-raising material that could have been done with director Mads Brügger's usual method of operation; there's a lot of low-key horror that likely comes from a lot of research and effort to make things authentic. It's an oft-fascinating look at both successful businessmen and those who would pose as such operating in their own interests and basically trying to put one over on one another. It's the wild east out there, business-wise, and the groups of amoral hucksters roaming the land are intriguing subjects.

Full review at EFC.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Fantasia 2018.20: The Brink, River's Edge, Arizona, and Montreal Dead End

Another quiet day as the festival winds down and guests from out of town are relatively scant, and there's a temptation to wonder if maybe the festival does run a bit long, but by now there's just a couple days left so why not hit the full three weeks? And, hey, you get some interesting stuff as well.

There being a few reruns means there's time to get actual food, and here is the most amusingly named eatery in Montreal:

The dishes are named after tyrants and those who aspire to the position; I had the "Kim" poutine, and I suspect many appreciate them keeping the "Bush" on the menu even though there's also a "Trump".

Speaking of Montreal-specific things:

I think that's all the directors that worked on Montreal Dead End, which is the annual feature from "Fantastic Week-End" that makes its way into the main program. I am thankful it had English subtitles this time so that I didn't just sit there feeling like an idiot like last year, which is always a relief. The movie itself is kind of what you expect from a group whose creed is basically that the movie you make is better than the one you don't, so it's okay if things are kind of rough. And it's rough as heck in spots, but kind of fun for those who love the city, festival, etc.

Today's the official closing night, although Thursday is a sort of "bonus day". I'll be at What A Man Wants, Madeline's Madeline, Big Brother, and Saint Bernard Syndicate (unless it looks like they've decided to let badge-holders into Mandy after all and the line looks manageable).

Kuang shou (The Brink)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 31 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

"Max" Zhang Jin is certainly well-positioned to be the next big Hong Kong martial-arts star, fresh off a couple fight-scene-stealing turns against Donnie Yen and Wu Jing & Tony Jaa, the sort that make you want to see more of the guy playing the villain. Of course, it's worth remembering that Wu's first starring roles after similar parts weren't exactly impressive, and that's where Zhang finds himself here: Physically gifted, showing enough acting chops to suggest star potential, but not yet getting cast in the good lead roles yet.

Instead, he's in this, playing a rule-breaking cop hunting down gold smugglers who are much more interesting to watch before one starts consolidating power and taking charge. It's not quite boring, but it feels like a script built around location availability and what needs to happen, but not really fleshed out otherwise. The astonishingly loyal girlfriend who shakes tails with homemade bombs doesn't even get a name, and she's the number one "show me more of her" thing in the movie.

Zhang has just enough charisma to not be sunk by the script, though, and there are some pretty nice fight scenes. Underwater kung fu doesn't work out so well, but Zhang is great in close quarters, and there's a pretty great chase over, around, and through the boats in the harbor.

I guess you've got to pay your dues. It probably won't be long before Zhang is the next big thing and we're laughing over some of the steps he needed to take to get there, I reckon.

River's Edge (Ribâzu ejji)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 31 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

River's Edge feels like it could have been made during its 1994 setting: It lacks many easy nostalgia cues, frames its shots in a square 4:3 aspect ratio, and has an earnest confessional framing that feels like that period's independent film, as do its aimless kids, untethered to either parents or mobile phones.

It makes for a fascinating examination of detachment and earnest affection, with many of the teens we want to like often morbid, and simple kindness often more rare than it should be. The filmmakers build its story simply, without fuss, which includes being frank rather than precious with its sex scenes. It's also got a strong young cast which sometimes looks a bit older than their roles, but always hit their targets.

"End Times"

* * * (out of four)
Seen 31 July 2018 in Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU (Fantasia International Film Festival, digital)

Apparently, when I saw it at BUFF and tried to re-review it later, it was part of a run of shorts that didn't make a strong impression on me, but on a second viewing, I really like it. Writer/director Bobby Miller plays up a certain dark absurdity, but what really ties it together are the little details of how the character played by Richard Longstreet is struggling with his mourning: The lack of people at his father's funeral, his reluctance to spend much on an urn, the way the recognition that he actually loved his father comes with a dying squirrel finally breathing its last. It's a really terrific little performance by Longstreet, sincere and emotional amid archness and insanity without feeling like a straight man.

Really glad I got to see this one a second time.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 31 July 2018 in Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

Arizona starts out in a smart, timely spot, taking advantage of the vast number of hollowed-out, prefabricated, unfinished developments in the Southwest to create both a memorable sense of desperation and an isolated setting, but somewhere along the way the black comedy of people unwilling to take responsibility for increasingly horrible actions and a twisted American dream becomes a standard direct-to-video thriller. Eventually, a guy chasing a woman and his daughter with a gun is just that, no matter how clever it started out.

Sure, it does matter that the guy is Danny McBride, and he's going to slip perfectly-executed moments of dumb, entitled white male privilege in even after it's become just a chase, and that Rosemary DeWitt handles her earlier shift from comic to thriller well. There's also a fun supporting cast, including some memorable surprises. A lot of the film's nastier turns don't land quite as well as they could, though, getting a little bit of a gasp of shock or not believing they went for that joke, but not really putting that feeling to work for more than half a second or so.

The movie doesn't fail, but it's also never nearly the film it seems like it could have been after it gets started.

Montréal Dead End

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 31 July 2018 in Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU (Fantasia International Film Festival: Fantastiques Week-Ends du Cinéma Québécois, DCP)

I enjoy that Montréal Dead End opens near Berri-UQAM, near the bus station where I arrive for the city's Fantasia International Film Festival every year. This is, obviously, a complete coincidence, because as with much of what is produced by Québéc's film industry, it is an intensely local product, filled with references that may befuddle first-time tourists and probably don't travel well. But while a tale zombies, ghosts, and other horrors may seem like an odd love-letter to one's home town, there's a certain charm to it that transcends its DIY nature.

And, make no mistake, Montréal Dead End is very do-it-yourself project, with most of its 18 directors being credited with a few shorts prior to this feature, and clear limitations on budget and other resources. For the most part, the filmmakers choose stories that can be executed under those sorts of constraints, and there's some good work on showing the Montréal city-scape with mysterious green smoke hanging over it, but by and large this looks like the work of resourceful enthusiasts, rather than professionals working on a labor of love.

It gives the filmmakers a lot of freedom to do whatever they want, and the pieces where the filmmakers are free to get kind of loopy and play things out are often the best. I particularly enjoyed the ones about a girl and her jealous boyfriend who find themselves suddenly exchanging bodies in La Parc La Fontaine, an intern finding himself pulled into an alternate history when his boss takes him to a secret bar in Centre-Ville, zombies whose culinary tastes require more than raw flesh in Mile End, another cook who sees his food fight back near Marché Atwater, and a tour guide who learns more about Le Vieux Montréal than she wants to know. Most of them are simple ideas, but the filmmakers find entertaining twists on them and make good use of the framework given, creating a situation where anything can happen, but it is not necessarily tied to anything else in a meaningful way. It's a loose, but thoroughly effective anthology format.

Full review at EFC.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fantasia 2018.19: Number 37, Cinderella the Cat, Heavy Trip, and Tokyo Vampire Hotel

Going to have to circle back around for Sunday, because it was shorts day, and there's twenty of those things which probably take a half-hour each to write up even if they only lasted five minutes. Remember that the next time you say critics are paid to watch movies - they're paid to write about them. Or not paid but given press passes, as the case may be here.

No guests - the last week of the festival really slows down on that count before a few people on the last couple days. It's almost kind of relaxing - just hanging out, watching good movies - at least to the extent that a film festival can be.

Will today be the same? We'll see - I'm at The Brink, River's Edge, Arizona, and trying to get into what is sure to be a huge crowd for Monteral Dead End. Amiko is pretty darn good, and I wouldn't be opposed to trying to stay awake through a non-midnight screening of Rokuroku, even if it is a big mess.

Nommer 37 (Number 37)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

Basically an uncredited remake of Rear Window set in an unsavory Cape Town neighborhood, but that's not exactly a bad place to start if the goal is to make a decent thriller, and Number 37 is that. It's not as inventive as the things that inspired it, and there's really not a beat that you can't predict once the basics have been put into place.

It goes through those motions well, though, and its James Stewart and Grace Kelly substitutes, Irshaad Ally and Monique Rockman, are well-chosen for this particular production. It's got one really nice villain in Danny Ross's loan shark, and once the finale gets where it's been going, it is undeniably satisfying.

Gatta Cenerentola (Cinderella the Cat)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival: Axis, digital)

This modern/futuristic retelling of Cinderella has a bunch of wonderfully loopy pieces to it, from a yacht seemingly designed to be a ghost ship, a tragic wicked stepmother, a transvestite stepsister, glass slippers used to smuggle cocaine, and a spunky take on the title character who is anything but passive in the last few minutes. That it never really seems to go off the rails is at least partially a product of its Italian DNA: It's got songs that are equal parts cheery and mournful, casual sexiness, a certain fatalism and loyalty where the characters' hometown is concerned.

Of course, it still is Cinderella, which means that Mia doesn't actually do much until the end - indeed, she's a fairly minor part of the story for much of the movie. And though the motion-captured animation is probably wise not to attempt too much detail, it does tend to feel a bit stiff at times (visually, a proper DCP would probably be a huge help as well). And given how adult some of the movie is, I'm not sure who it's for - its too much this for some, not enough that for others, in practically every facet.

I'll probably watch it again given a chance, though - the thrilling promise of the opening and the moments when it shines make up for its failings.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 30 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, digital)

A cute little short that kind of just messes around for ten minutes as a mall Santa and the "star fairy" working with him take a ten-minute break, planning to get it on in the back room, but kind of getting derailed by Christmas-y puns, foreplay, and the logistical difficulties imposed by their costumes get in the way. There's really not much to it other than hanging out, but there doesn't really need to be; the two main cast members are likable and able to hit some pretty specific beats when need be. They and filmmaker Valérie Leclair make them pretty believably two people you might catch working at the mall, not secretly brilliant folks slumming it.

It's got a decent enough end, although I think the goal is more to just get the audience out without things getting too sappy. Which isn't a bad way to go about it at all.

Hevi reissu (Heavy Trip)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 July 2018 in Salle J.A. DeSève (Fantasia International Film Festival, DCP)

Though the "trip" part of the movie only includes a fiercely funny last act, that's no disappointment; this Finnish heavy-metal comedy is pretty much a delight throughout, mostly because our never feels like its characters being both big metalheads and lovable dorks is any sort of conflict that has to be resolved. It's well aware that some parts of this type of music are kind of ridiculous even if very serious, but doesn't disrespect that.

It's also filled with funny people, playing deadpan with enthusiasm, straight-faced when called for and full of joy otherwise. It's got big, ridiculous slapstick, body fluid jokes that make sense and involve giving a damn, and never sells or what makes one le a character for a cheap laugh.

And, again, that last act is some concentrated funny. It's utterly ridiculous in a bigger way than the rest of the film, but it earns that and executes perfectly. Sometimes, it seems, being metal as heck means rolling with the insanity that comes your way.

Tokyo Vampire Hotel (film version)

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 July 2018 in Auditorium des Diplômés de la SGWU (Fantasia International Film Festival, digital)

So, maybe this thing has saved me a little time, because how do you commit to six hours of this mess, even if it is basically free on Prime? And you have, in fact, been waiting impatiently for Amazon to bring it over from Japan for the better part of a year. I mean, there's still a non-trivial chance that I will go for the full version, because this thing cut down to half that size is just such an obvious editing disaster that you kind of have to see what Sion Sono doing a TV series with this premise is like.

Still, there's a lot about Tokyo Vampire Hotel that is just generally Not Good. The character dumped in what counts for the protagonist slot, Manami (Ami Tomite), is abused so constantly that it's hard to really care beyond wanting her to just stop crying, and the potentially interesting anti-heroes of K (Kaho) and Nao (Ami Fukuda, I think) feel like side characters whose history is a distraction here. Maybe as an ensemble, they work a whole lot better.

As a film, Tokyo Vampire Hotel becomes a loud, obnoxious thing that gets into the exaggerated violence too early and never has a point to its vampire mythology other than "vampires are cool". But they're really not, and complicated mythology of warring families may make for a good RPG but it makes them hollow, not meaning anything. The one time this seems kind of interesting is when a Rumanian vampire sucking the blood of a woman on an underground ferris wheel makes one recoil because Sono has set it up to feel an awful lot like a rape, and beyond the disgust, there's potentially a metaphor to that, but the movie just doesn't have time for it at all. Sono may also be aging past the point where him doing stuff that is primarily about girls this young dressed sexy is kind of creepy - they definitely get a lot more weird outfits than their less-numerous male counterparts.

I'll probably want the show, because I like Sono for the most part and I'm weak. But it's way on the backburner now.