Monday, September 28, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 21 September 2009 to 27 September 2009

Before reviewing last week's tickets, a couple notes on series going on and screenings coming up here in the Boston area:

* The Brattle will be hosting a preview screening of Whip It tonight (28 September 2009) at 7pm; doors open at 6pm; it's open to the general public but Brattle members get to go in first. Up until Saturday, I was planning to go; then my brother IMed me to say he had an extra ticket for tonight's game atop the wall. So, hey, I'll catch up with Whip It in regular theaters sometime.

* The Brattle and The Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film kicked off the semi-annual Sunday Eye Opener series yesterday; though anyone who wasn't there has missed the first, it's still a pretty good deal to see films early or without distribution: $50 for the general public, $30 for members of either organization, $20 for members of both. Individual screenings will run $10.

* 826 Boston is hosting a fund-raising screening of Where the Wild Things Are on Monday, 5 October. It's bit pricey - $30 general admission, $100 VIP - but screenwriter David Eggers will be there for a Q&A. The VIP tickets not only get you seats in the section that is usually roped off, but also admission into a pre-screening cocktail party with Eggers at the Ritz-Carlton. Proceeds help 826's mission to help kids write.

This Week In Tickets!

Not a lot going on during the week, and didn't really want to go out on a rainy Sunday. Surrogates was the thing I was most excited about this weekend, as I had greatly enjoyed the comics and was especially tickled to find that they were shooting in Boston last year. I don't know how many folks in the audience were aware of it, but everybody seemed to get a kick out of seeing scenes take place just a block or two away from the theater.

A little CGI or set dressing to fill in an empty storefront in Downtown Crossing might have been appreciated, though. It looks like that Barnes & Noble that closed down a couple years ago will never find a new tenant, and will be across from a big hole in the ground for a couple years.

(Another bummer: I had to turn around and tell people to shut up, and should have done so much earlier. The theater is not your living room, people, and I didn't pay for my ticket so I could listen to you!)

The Informant!

* * * (out of four)
Seen 26 September 2009 at AMC Boston Common #11 (First-run)

The Informant! feels a little bit like a movie that's a victim of being based on a true story. The first half or so is the bouncy, very funny movie that the previews have been selling, and it's a treat. Soderbergh and company do a really quite exceptional job of making something that could be very dry - an investigation into price-fixing of corn by-products - and build a very amusing comedy out of it, with fine performances by Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, and Scott Bakula.

The trouble is, Damon's character was more complicated than that, and while we'd seen some of his odd way of thinking with the tangents his mind goes off on while other stuff is happening on screen, we suddenly get a lot more of it. We get scenes suggesting that the pathological lying has a physiological route, but no follow-up, and a jump forward that includes some weirdly expository dialogue (although that may also just be the way this guy talks). It feels like an odd break.


* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 26 September 2009 at AMC Boston Common #18 (First-run)

Surrogates should have been a better movie - it's got an interesting sci-fi premise, the right star in Bruce Willis, and a good director in Jonathan Mostow. The action is pretty good, and it's even clever at times - I love a scene where the cops are questioning a group of corporate flacks, and there's maybe a little extra stiffness to how Radha Mitchell walks. Even in a future where everyone can present themselves as Hollywood-beautiful, you can see the differences between the haves and have-nots.

That's why the moments when Surrogates isn't inventive are so frustrating. that scene ends on a crude line from Willis's Tom Greer that deflates it a little, and the movie ultimately falls back on saying that this new technology is bad/wrong/etc. in a very black and white way. The final minutes, especially, leave no time to explore the shades of gray and interesting questions about the trade-offs that made the rest more interesting than the average action movie.

To be fair, that may come from the original comics - I'll have to pull my copy out and give it a look - but it's still disappointing, either way.


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 26 September 2009 at the Brattle Theatre (Special Engagement)

The description of this movie in the Brattle's calendar contains an unusually candid phrase, that Suspiria is "almost solely responsible for Argento's canonization into the pantheon of legendary horror directors". I don't know that it's even actually a good movie itself, but it is at least a memorable one: The lush colors of the gorgeous settings pop off the screen, especially on the Technicolor print that the Brattle ran. The soundtrack is bold electronica by The Gremlins, and the story is crazy events piled one on top of the other.

It is beautiful, though. Utter nonsense, but striking enough that it doesn't really matter.
The Informant!SurrogatesSuspiria


Ned Merrill said...

I won't quibble with you about your assessment of SUSPIRIA, even if I do disagree.

However, to maintain credibility, you really should revise your review of SUSPIRIA to reflect that the memorable score is by GOBLIN not, as you say, "the Gremlins." Goblin is taken quite seriously by both music and film aficionados, and SUSPIRIA is but one of many feathers in their collective cap.

Movie Blaster said...

Surrogates movie had a serious flaw with the concept it was based in from the get go. The makers didn't take into account most people don't like leading sedentary lives.... It's bad for the health and it doesn't make people feel good either. The silly comicbook was outdated.