Monday, February 09, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 2 February 2009 to 8 February 2009

The weekend got a little busy, but not so much the week itself:

This Week In Tickets!

On Video: No Mercy for the Rude

I had a pass to see the preview of Push on Tuesday, but despite arriving at the theater an hour before the start time, didn't make it. There wasn't much else I hadn't seen playing at around 6:30 at Boston Common, so I wound up taking the T to Fenway to use up a pass before it expired Thursday. The express bus from Central Square, Waltham to Downtown Boston took $5.00 off my CharlieCard, and the green line from Boylston to Fenway station was $1.70, so it cost me $6.70 to see a free movie that night. Oddly, that's still not a bad deal for seeing a mid-week movie in this city; note that the second-run theater out in Arlington (the sort of place that I believe is still referred to as a "dollar theater" in other parts of the country) cost me $7.00 on Thursday night.

I saw Frozen River that night, which gets me pretty close to having seen all the major nominations for the Academy Awards - I'm missing Richard Jenkins in The Visitor and Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder (which I own on Blu-ray). It wouldn't be too much effort to find a copy of The Visitor on video (though I don't have memberships with any rental services right now), so I'll probably be good there. I don't know about the Chlotrudis Awards - I've seen a good chunk of those, but I've only seen one of the Buried Treasure nominees, and I just can't see myself making the effort to see four of the other five (especially when the arguments for one of the films advanced at the nominating meeting put me off wanting to see it). It's just no fun seeing movies out of a sense of obligation, after all.

Gran Torino

* * * (out of four)
Seen 3 February 2009 at Regal Fenway #5 (first-run)

I like Clint Eastwood, a lot, although most of what I've seen him in is the older, somewhat mellowed Clint. You know he's become a fine director, and his laid-back approach as a filmmaker has somewhat affected his on-screen persona - it's difficult not to see him as the wise old man these days. So considering Gran Torino is likely his swan song as an actor is kind of odd to me: As much as I know that much of his early work is the sort of tough guy who might age into this movie's Walt Kowalski, that's not how I picture him. I guess that speaks to Eastwood's exceptionally long career, in that as much as this is how he was perceived for a long time, he's been able to evolve into quite a bit more.

The movie itself isn't bad. Clint Eastwood is not hanging up his spurs on a masterpiece, and this likely won't be a role he's long-remembered for, but it's a solid, well-made picture.

Frozen River

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 5 February 2009 at FEI Capitol #2 (second-run)

Another movie mainly getting attention for a notable performance, in this case Melissa Leo's Oscar-and-many-other-awards-nominated performance. Which is pretty good, but which I think may also be getting a little bit of notice for being one where the star lets herself look like hell. It's a nice performance, nothing wrong with it at all, but I didn't find Leo's Ray Eddy particularly captivating.

The story itself is, though. Writer/director Courtney Hunt has come up with a nifty and unique premise - human smuggling where Mohawk lands straddle the U.S./Canada border - and stuck a handful of interesting characters into it. I was most interested in Misty Upham as Lila, the Mohawk woman who involves Ray in her operation. She just as desperate as Ray, but there's something about the way she carries herself that makes her interesting. I've seen people like Ray before, but Lila seemed a much more original creation.

Taken

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 8 February 2009 at AMC Boston Common #8 (first run; digital projection)

Ah, Luc Besson, don't ever change. Even if you do stick with this decision to only direct new Arthur et les Minimoys films, keep writing and producing quality action movies, mentoring new directors like this film's Pierre Morel. Some may argue that they aren't great art, but they most assuredly are great entertainment.

Liam Neeson is this film's far-from-secret weapon, of course. He's not the martial arts star that many of Besson's other leading men have been, but the script is tailored to him: It takes great advantage of him being tall and imposing, and will often have him dispatch enemies with a single blow rather than a drawn out fight sequence; he's a guy who knows how to handle himself. It's no wonder, seeing this movie, that he was almost cast as James Bond twice (allegedly the first choice of the Broccoli's for GoldenEye and when Columbia tried to set up a competing Bond franchise by purchasing the sequel rights to Never Say Never Again); he embodies the fierce ruthlessness of that character.

The Besson and Neeson's performance were why I sat through this often-brutal action movie with a smile on my face: It's an example of something that is often done poorly, without care, being done well.

Gran TorinoFrozen RiverPushCoralineTaken

2 comments:

pcmemoirs said...

I've seen Gran Torino and I would agree with your grade: 3/4.
And your review for Taken is probably the best I've read so far. I haven't seen Frozen River.

Eric Y. said...

I loved Gran Torino. If it weren't for some weak acting by some of the principals, it would have been a masterpiece.