Monday, May 04, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 27 April 2009 to 3 May 2009

The week started with the tail end of the IFFB, and, yeah, it looks like I can't exactly get out of the festival mindset, even to the extent of the ultra-rare two movies at two separate theaters on a weeknight. Note that I didn't consider the humor of doing a double feature of thoroughly dissimilar movies named "Colossus" and "Gigantic" until this very moment:

This Week In Tickets!

(Hey, the festival's sponsor isn't paying me, so I've got no compunctions about covering their logo. And they did give me that button... I'll make that a link as soon as I get around to the full review for that one.)

In another bit of coincidence that amused me, Battle for Terra and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were the sixth and seventh movies I saw during the week. I idly considered going to one of the Boston Common, Kendall, or Fenway theaters on Sunday and just seeing whatever was in theater #8 (I guess Arlington might work, too). That might be a fun week sometime - maybe after I get back from Fantasia and I've missed enough that I can do this sort of semi-random catching up.

I wound up with 17 movies seen at IFFB, all told:

22 April 2009 (Wednesday): The Brothers Bloom
23 April 2009 (Thursday): Children of Invention, The Missing Person
24 April 2009 (Friday): Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, In The Loop, Pontypool
25 April 2009 (Saturday): Still Walking, Nollywood Babylon, Lost Son of Havana, Grace
26 April 2009 (Sunday): Herb and Dorothy, Helen, Unmistaken Child, The Escapist
27 April 2009 (Monday): For the Love of Movies, Art & Copy
28 April 2009 (Tuesday): World's Greatest Dad

I kind of wish they did the "stand up if you've seen 5 movies... 10..." thing at the closing night show, like they did last year I would have liked to see if anyone managed the 20. I probably could have done 18 or 19 if I opted for two films each in the time I used to see Lost Son of Havana or The Escapist; the full twenty would have required basically camping at the Brattle all weekend, and I'd seen a good chunk of those. I was also curious to see how many the lady who seemed to wind up just ahead of me in line all weekend made (she had a press pass for something called "Get Thee to a Theater!", but I can't find a site by that name right now).

Colossus: The Forbin Project

* * * (out of four)
Seen 30 April 2009 at The Brattle Theatre (first-run)

This served as the opening segment of a lecture series put on by Harvard (I think), called "Crossroads: The Future of Human Life in the Universe", which isn't a crazy-broad mandate at all. That said, I wish I had been able to get to some of the talks given at Zero Arrow, as they had some downright great names there, capped off with Buckminster Fuller. They had to have been more exciting than the one David Agular gave, which ground to a dead halt with a long excerpt from The Matrix that was hard to see and included cheap shots at A.I. even as he talked about how it had grand ideas to it.

(Is there any movie in the last ten or so years that has been treated as unfairly as A.I.? It's downright brilliant, one of the most intelligent science fiction films in years, but Spielberg's real movie can't help but fall short of the movie everyone imagines Kubrick making - despite the fact that Kubrick acknowledged that he couldn't make it!)

The movie itself is pretty entertaining, for an "OMFG, computers are scary!" picture from when computers maybe were kind of scary (you'd think we'd be past that, but stuff like Eagle Eye and Echelon Conspiracy still comes out). It's a pretty decent example of that sort of early-seventies grim sci-fi, although it is kind of goofy at a strictly mechanical level. Like many movies considered classics of the sci-fi genre, it doesn't quite hold up when viewed through modern eyes, even when you can tell it was something special back then.

As another aside, someone at the Brattle or Harvard needs to be called out on the presentation - the movie was screened from Universal's cropped DVD, which was terribly obvious during some scenes. That's understandable if this was a fallback position after a print failed to arrive, but there should have been signage at the box office saying so - when one goes to the theater, one expects film projected right.


* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 30 April 2009 at Landmark Kendall Square #3 (first-run)

One I rushed to see because it came and tanked the same weekend as IFFB (note to Landmark: Scheduling a director Q&A for a quirky movie co-starring Zooey Deschanel for the same time that the IFFB was playing 500 Days of Summer may not have been a great idea). I don't exactly regret it; I'd liked what I saw in the trailer and the movie is more of that: Plenty of low-key, maybe somewhat forced quirk from actors I like. Sadly, it's not quirk that really comes together into a story, and it defines the characters so much that it stops being eccentricity and starts to feel like mental illness. It feels like the writers (including star Paul Dano) came up with characters and scenes but no real way to put them together.

Battle For Terra

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 2 May 2009 at Showcase Cinemas Revere #6 (first-run, digital 3-D)

Yes, I am a complete mark for sci-fi, animation, and 3-D, which is why I hauled my butt out to Revere to see this one, even though I remembered the short film as being something of a confusion (to be fair, it felt like it could benefit from fleshing out). The feature-length version is better, and when it goes into full 3-D spaceships flying around mode, it's even kind of fun.

The rest of the time, though, it's kind of weak. It's grim and violent at points, but simplistically moralistic at others. The rendering of people is not up to the standards one expects when paying for a $12 movie ticket; there only seem to be slight variations in the models used for human characters (none of whom have difficult-to-render hair), and the Terrians float weirdly despite humans walking as if the planet has normal gravity. The voice acting seems to have been dubbed in later, to match characters animated to bland, affect-less temp tracks. And the script includes characters using units like "cubic pounds" to measure oxygen.

There were moments early on when I tried to check my disappointment, thinking that if it were limited cel animation from Japan, I'd probably give it mroe of a chance, but by the end, I think I'd decided that the movie had enough real faults to just be a disappointment.

(One thing I thought by the end, though - I'd love to see George Lucas 3-D-ify the Star Wars prequels. Say what you will about his weaknesses in working with actors, the eye candy would be off the charts)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 2 May 2009 at Regal Fenway #7 (first-run)

I'm not as reflexively against giving Wolverine an origin story as some comic fans are - I think, at a certain point, having him be mysterious while pulling out more bits of Marvel history reaches a tipping point - but it should be better than this. This one more or less just feels like folks ticking items off on a checklist, and the story they concentrate on is kind of disappointing. It zips past 150 years of history as nothing more than a continuous string of wars that Logan & Creed fight in as indestructible soldiers, then gives us yet another story about mutant superheroes doing nothing but fighting mutant villains to protect mutant-kind.

And the movie's got, like, ten minutes of Ryan Reynolds as proto-Deadpool. You know, the part that promised to be really fun.
IFFBWorld's Greatest DadColossus: The Forbin ProjectGiganticBattle For TerraX-Men Origins: WolverineRevanche

1 comment:

erase said...

I actualy opened this post course i liked the grafic;)