Monday, March 09, 2009

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

I'm getting ready for my first trip out to the South by Southwest festival this Friday, so TWIT will be up Friday morning as there's no way I'm lugging my scanner to Texas or constructing pages while I'm out there. But for now...

This Week In Tickets!

You know, that's a pretty darn solid week. Two Lovers wasn't very good, but everything else had something to recommend it. My only real complaint was that the 104 bus took forever to arrive on the way back from the furniture store; one of those situations where if you knew two just weren't going to show up, you'd take the subway. But once it's late, it must be just around the corner, right?

Also, I wish I'd been able to get to more of the "9 x Quine" series at the Harvard Film Archive, but Watchmen ate Saturday and I opted for Phoebe on Sunday. I'm definitely going to have to become a member of the HFA, since the price is pretty good (you save money if you go to three special events and eight films a year); I've been going there a lot more, lately.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 6 March 2009 at the Harvard Film Archive (9 x Quine)

I wrote a review of this three years ago. I liked it then and maybe don't like it quite as much now, but I'm still fond of it. Kim Novak is delicious in the role that introduced her, although Fred MacMurray's businesslike, barking fall from grace doesn't quite hold up as well. What I do still love is the meticulous way it sets up its action; not many movies these days would spell everything out with floorplans that the viewer is encouraged to memorize and follow along with for the rest of the movie. Nobody ever turns right when they should turn left; which is great attention to detail.

Drive a Crooked Road

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 6 March 2009 at the Harvard Film Archive (9 x Quine)

Eddie Shannon (Mickey Rooney) knows cars - how to fix them, build them, and drive them. Girls, that's another story - his short stature, nasty scar, and shy demeanor has served to keep him away. So the poor guy doesn't stand a chance when Barbara Mathews (Dianne Foster) and her roughly eleven feet of legs comes into the garage where he works and asks for him by name...

... Actually, I just wanted to write that line about Ms. Foster's long, long legs. If I wind up writing a full review of this, it's going in there, and may work its way into another one. They certainly make an impression, although the rest of the movie isn't bad, exactly, just a little ham-handed. It's interesting for being a film noir with a script by Blake Edwards, who would become known for much lighter fare.

I also think that this would be prime remake material - the plot, which involves a group of bank robbers recruiting Shannon because their bank robbery requires getting through a remarkably twisty road at an impossible rate of speed, is a good one. And the automotive action isn't bad for 1954, but a twenty-first century viewer can't help but wonder how much more they could have done even ten years later.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 7 March 2009 at Jordan's Furniture Reading (first-run)

What do you MEAN, no Star Trek trailer? Do I look like I care about Harry Potter?


And, you know, if nerd rage over the Watchmen movie ends there, they've done all right. I've got no complaints about the new ending, which is a logical enough way to do it, since it allows a time-consuming subplot to be excised and does wind up saying something interesting about Dr. Manhattan.

As well as the movie does a lot of things, there are a couple of faults to it as an adaptation: The first is that it seems to miss one of Moore's points from the book, that there are no superheroes, just flawed and oftentimes perverse men and women. The one true superbeing becomes inhuman, and the closest thing to it comes awful close. Here, though, we see the characters engage in enhanced fisticuffs, destroying the rooms they fight in, rather than seeming terriby human and vulnerable as they do in the book. Excising certain scenes means we miss a big part of Rorschach's personality.

The other thing is that, as much as Watchmen is deservedly called a graphic novel in terms of scope and structure, it's also a comic book. One thing I was struck by when reading it for the first time last fall is how much each issue is very self-contained. Watchmen #4, which tells Dr. Manhattan's story, is perhaps the best single issue of any comic ever written, and even as a chapter in a book, it's haunting and tragic and whole. In the film, there's no pause of any kind between it and what happens before and after, and while director Zack Snyder and screenwriters David Hayter and Alex Tse put it on-screen more or less unmolested, the sudden shift in narration and style makes it seem like an odd section of the movie, not the grand thing it was before.

Of course, those are things coming from someone who is familiar with the book through recent experience. I'll be interested in hearing what my brother Matt thinks, as he intends to swipe my copy of the book after seeing the movie. It's still a good story told pretty well, and that's before getting to the soft spot I have for any movie that gives Matt Frewer a part well suited to him.
Two LoversSerbisQuine X 2WatchmenSita Sings the BluesPhoebe In Wonderland

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