Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This Week In Tickets: 24 August 2009 to 30 August 2009


This Week In Tickets!

So, I've had the Sox tickets ever since January (or whenever the April/May/September tickets went on sale), and then, about a week before the game, I'm checking the website of Girls, Guns, and Glory and I see they've added a date in Allston for that day. My friend Justin plays bass for them (although they still haven't upgraded the stock photos), and the last couple times he's played in Boston, I've been elsewhere: New York for the NYAFF back in June, and Montreal for Fantasia in July. Fortunately, the show is scheduled for 9pm, and there are two other acts listed on the bill; I figure that if the game doesn't go extras, and the B line co-operates (stop laughing!), I can make it there in time for their set. Then something starts itching at the back of my mind, about the last weekend of August... Yep, Films at the Gate. Maybe what they're showing Saturday won't really interest me... Nope, Jackie Chan in Drunken Master. How do things cluster like that?

I works out, for me at least - I get to Harper's Ferry just as GG&G is about to go on, and the movie is canceled for rain. Which sucks, but I feel like I sort of lucky there. Self-centered of me, I know.

Explains why the weekend was relatively movie-less, though - rainy on Saturday, me up until 3am hanging with a friend after his show and thus sleeping late on Sunday.

Cold Souls

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 25 August 2009 at Landmark Kendall Square #6 (First-run)

Most of the folks I saw the movie with seemed to really enjoy it, but I have to admit, it didn't do much for me. Writer/director Sophie Barthes has a clever urban fantasy idea - technology that allows people to remove and store their souls, or rent another person's - that places it in territory squarely between Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunlight of the Spotless Mind. And yet, it lacks what made those movies exciting and clever. It drifts without a real story for its first half, and what it comes up with in the second is hurt by the other problem, that Barthes doesn't do a great job of communicating what it means to lose one's soul or gain another. It's a neat idea, but it's vague - it never reaches above "clever" to be surreal or horrifying like those two Charlie Kaufmann-penned films.

Shame, because the cast is nice. Giamatti is actually a little problematic - there's not really anything missing from him when his soul is removed; as much as I enjoy his patented freakouts, they seem out of place here (it strikes me that Dustin Hoffman could have killed in this role). Female lead Dina Korzun is much more interesting - she does seem somewhat empty, although the little bits of other souls that are accreting in her brain are countering that. David Strathairn steals just about every scene he's in as the guy running the soul-extraction business. It's just too bad they didn't have a better movie to be impressive in.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 27 August 2009 at Landmark Kendall Square #9 (First-run)

This is a fun little primer on Australian exploitation film from about 1969 forward; there wasn't much of a film industry down under before that. Director Mark Hartley, a pro at making behind-the-scenes documentaries, zips through a bunch of fun-looking "Ozploitation" movies, with tons of clips and plenty of talking-head interviews relaying crazy anecdotes from actors and filmmakers. The obligatory appearances by Quentin Tarantino are, of course, highly entertaining. As much as I love movies, I kind of wish I loved them like he does.

In some ways, it's almost too much; Hartley flies through dozens of movies in just over an hour and a half. There was a rumor early in the year that the Brattle or HFA was planning an Ozploitation series, and I certainly hope we get to see some of these flicks on the big screen soon.

Jing Wu Ying Xiong (Fist of Legend)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 27 August 2009 at Landmark Kendall Square #9 (First-run)

Jet Li punches and kicks people with fight choreography by Yeun Woo-ping. Not a whole lot more needs to be said. It delivers plenty of martial arts action, a message of tolerance that often doesn't go with films set in this time period, and a dose of crime and intrigue that is actually intriguing.

I don't know if it's as high up on my list of great martial arts films as it is for some; I suspect it's fairly popular because of the fine job it does in building the legend of Jet Li: In his early fights, he's obviously holding back, either toying with opponents or holding back so he doesn't hurt someone he has no real beef with; then there's the impressive display of technique with Yasuaki Kurata; and then, finally, the crazy, mammoth fight with Billy Chow. After all, nothing makes you look quite that amazing like making things entertaining while you wait for a real challenge to come along.
Cold SoulsNot Quite HollywoodFist of LegendClay BuchholzI Sell the Dead

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