Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weekend update: 22-23 July

Went to the Brattle's "Trailer Treats" event on Thursday. It's kind of a good time, and the money raised goes to keeping the place open, which everybody who enjoys film wants to see happen. I wound up making out like a bandit - answering a trivia question (Crispin Glover starred in the remake of Willard) to win a Marx Brothers box set, and then literally minutes later being having my raffle ticket drawn to win the gift bucket full of crap (and a Coen Brothers box set). I wound up letting anyone who wanted to pick over it take what they want, and I'll probably wind up selling the movies I have duplicates of on ebay and giving the procedes to the Brattle. There's still a bunch of stuff I have no idea how I'll ever use them.

Still, Ned, Ivy and company must be taking my threats for what I'd do if I win their Guaranteed request raffle a little more seriously. Here's what I've come up with as double-feature possibilities:

Survive Style 5+ and Funky Forest: The First Contact - see just how much Japanese randomness an audience can take.

The Great Yokai War and Zebraman - someone's going to screen Yokai for me, since it ran in Cambridge when I was in Montreal and Montreal when I was in Cambridge, and another family-ish thing from Miike sounds like a fine companion. Or A Chinese Tall Story.

Crimewave and The Hudsucker Proxy - Raimis. Coens. Bruce Campbell. Good luck finding a non-sucky print of Crimewave.

SPL and One Night in Mongkok - two recent Hong Kong action movies I've heard excellent things about.

It's a Fantasia-centric list, which gives me an excuse to mention two more completed reviews: Black Kiss and Bad Blood. This leaves me with 15 Fantasia films and 8 others in the backlog. Forty movies in eleven days can really make getting caught up tough, as can seeing more movies than you right up in a four-day period. The three new ones are...

Monster House

* * * (out of four)
Seen 22 July 2006 at AMC Boston Common #16 (first-run) (digital 3-D)

I told Matt, hey, let's go see some cool technology yesterday morning, and Monster House delivered. The movie is a fun little scary story for kids, and if it relies on familiar gags when the kids are talking with each other, it's still full of energy. At one point during the big action finale I leaned over to whisper that this scene alone was worth the extra $2, and it was. The 3-D isn't quite so well-utilized as in The Polar Express, but it's a better story.

The same technology is used as was used with Chicken Little, apparently shooting video out at 144 frames per second (72 per eye), resulting in an exceptionally smooth picture. I generally avoid digital projection whenever I can, and still maintain that film looks better in most all situations, but this is something special.

Full review at HBS.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 22 July 2006 at AMC Fenway #5 (first-run)

There's a good chance others don't like this movie as much as I do, but I laughed from start to finish. Luke Wilson does great reaction shots, Uma Thurman is gorgeous and funny, there are no unfunny supporting characters who exist just to move the plot along. And there's the shark, which is even funnier in the movie than it was in the preview.

Also, I like its approach to telling a superhero story. Even comic books not allied with DC and Marvel often feel the need to create a whole planet full of superheroes when you probably just need one or two to tell the story you're interested in. It's been about ten years since G-Girl's first appearance, so we don't get a lot of how a superhero appearing upsets the world order; we just assume they've dealt with it. And they don't give her a spandex costume, but just let her dress in stuff that looks good and identifies her. I mean, really - does anybody really think a female superhero would just have the one costume? Yeah, it's a stereotype, but it works here.

Full review at HBS.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

* * * (out of four)
Seen 23 July 2006 at Landmark Kendall Square #3 (first-run)

I joke that I don't like the idea of electric cars - after all, I'm a pedestrian, and I wouldn't hear one of those silent things coming. I like the idea of a zero-emission vehicle a lot, though, and if I ever had to own a car, I'd like to think it would be something like the Saturn EV-1 which serves as the main focus of the movie.

I can't, though, since as filmmaker Chris Paine documents, General Motors not only discontinued the model, but took all the existing cars back and destroyed them; similar things happened with other EV models. The story of why and how this happens is almost too strange to be non-fiction, but is presented in a calm manner that manages to advocate without attacking the audience that's not already on its side. Paine relies on the famous and near-famous a little too much, and has to rely on stock footage because the cars had been recalled when he started the film to actually show the EV-1, but give him credit: This is the rare documentary that might actually convince somebody, rather than just repulse people on the other side.

Full review at HBS.

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