Relatively quiet weekend coming up:
* As I mentioned earlier, the Brattle has more Kurosawa coming up, and Twin Peaks. Not on the original calendar is a night with Paul Verhoeven - first, a book discussion of his new book Jesus of Nazareth (apparently, this is what he went to school for), second, he'll introduce RoboCop.
* The Coolidge opens The Runaways and picks up Mid-August Lunch in the MiniMax. Monday night, they have The Godfather on the big screen. Someday, I'll give it the second chance it deserves. They also have a sneak preview of Please Give, in association with the Provincetown International Film Festival.
* The one-week wonder at Kendall Square is one I saw at Fantasia last year, The Warlords. It's pretty darn good, a chance to look at Jet Li as an actor as well as a martial arts star. Also showing up at Kendall are Lbs., The Greatest, and Vincere.
* The only large mainstream release this week is Date Night, but a couple random theaters (Showcase Revere and Entertainment Fresh Pond) are opening something called The Black Waters of Echo's Pond, which probably stinks, but I can't help it, I'm drawn to random openings like that.
* The MFA continues Off and Running and The Turkish FIlm Festival.
* More guests at the HFA - Kamal Aljafari on Friday and David MacDougall on Sunday and Monday. John Ford movies on Saturday.
After a week of BUFF, one really needs to make the next movie one sees something like How to Train Your Dragon, if only for the purpose of resetting the brain. That much screwiness and projected video absolutely requires family-friendly IMAX as a corrective.
I was, I admit, a little disappointed not to see any Iron Man 2 promotion at the IMAX theater in Reading, which is kind of surprising; as much as I dug How to Train Your Dragon, I figure that in a month the theater will be ready for a couple weeks of big action. That's the same weekend Star Trek opened last year, looking like about the same sort of appeal, and IMAX theaters found themselves scrambling to find ways to keep Trek around after its two week run.
And, notice, no ticket for Clash of the Titans. I love 3-D, but even before reading the reviews, I kind of knew that was going to be a disaster. 3-D cinematography is by and large a different beast than standard cinematography, with different sorts of choices made; while 3-D films will often be shot with an eye toward how they'll look in 2-D, the opposite is generally not the case. The rapid turnaround for the conversion raised red flags, as well. I'm not one to automatically dismiss that sort of digital work (although calling it that understates how many human beings are making decisions in the process; it's not just hitting a "make 3-D" button), but there were red flags aplenty for Clash.
Plus, the movie just didn't look very good.
How to Train Your Dragon
* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 3 April 2010 at Jordan's Furniture Reading (first-run)
All that said, when 3-D is used well, and planned for from the beginning, it can be breathtaking. How to Train Your Dragon knows how to do this properly; aside from having many fantastic flying scenes, it makes even ground-based scenes have a sense of depth, with the island village of Burk hugging cliffs, building straight up, and having bits cross over openings in the earth or be suspended in mid-air. The training ground where Hiccup, Astrid, and the other Viking kids learn how to fight dragons is often viewed through safety netting, so that we get a sense of depth and scale.
Even seen in 2-D, though, this would be a very good family film. One that parents should probably see with their kids - there's a lot more dismemberment implied than they might be used to - but one that is both very smart and very sweet-natured. It features dragons and vikings, as well as a big, climactic battle, but spends most of its time on construction and understanding. It's got a thoroughly appealing cast of characters, often getting more clever in matching the voice actor to the animated image than other films.
And, yes, it's toyetic as heck. Hiccup's dragon Toothless is awful darn cute, there's enough different kinds of dragons to engage the part of a kid's brain that memorizes Pokemons, and Craig Ferguson's blacksmith viking, with his his customizable artificial limbs, just begs for an action figure.
She's Out of My League
* * (out of four)
Seen 4 April 2010 at AMC Boston Common #6 (first-run)
So, I had good luck with one Jay Baruchel movie on Saturday, how about another on Sunday? Well...
She's Out of My League isn't really bad, just below average, burdened with way too many sidekick characters, gags that are good enough for a bit of a laugh but are sustained much longer than it takes to chuckle, and lead characters who, while likable, aren't really funny themselves. It's pleasant enough, you can root for Kirk and Molly to stick, but at the end of the hour and a half, it really should have made us laugh more than it did.
Props for hiring Krysten Ritter to play the female lead's best friend, though. I am a big proponent of Getting Krysten Ritter Larger Roles in Bigger Movies.