Friday, June 04, 2010

This Week In Tickets: 24 May 2010 to 30 May 2010

If I were on any sort of official schedule, this would be late. It's late in part because I spent the three days at the tail end of the depicted week traveling to Annapolis, Maryland for a cousin's wedding and hanging out with that branch of my family tree through Monday. And though I didn't say it much or forcefully at the time - partly because it takes me days to figure out just what I mean, and partly because a chunk of the event involved drinking and noisy, crowded rooms (two things that make me excuse myself) - it was great. I have a large and fantastic family, not just because of my three brothers, but because of a ton of cousins, and every new marriage and new baby has just resulted in me knowing more people that I don't just love, but really, really like and enjoy being around. This is currently driving my youngest brother nuts in planning his own wedding, but the degree to which we are fortunate on this count is pretty darn remarkable.

I don't say this enough, in part because I don't see all these people enough, but I know enough people who don't have an easy time with their families that it's worth mentioning: I don't take this for granted.

Anyway, I'm in Baltimore right now, having planned to stick around an extra week, see some sights here and in Washington, and watch the Red Sox play the Orioles at Camden Yards. If I were in Boston, my priority would be...

  • Metrpolis at the Coolidge! If you see nothing else this week, see this!

    I mean it. I bought tickets before realizing that I'd planned to be elsewhere. I kicked around the idea of coming back north for an evening because I wanted to see the Alloy Orchestra accompany this restored version with nearly a half-hour of footage not seen in 80 years an only recently found in Argentina. The Alloy Orchestra screening is sold out, but there are a dozen more after that in the one-week booking at the Coolidge (which is cramming a lot onto their screens this week - check the schedule

  • An interesting group at the Brattle: Orson Welles Weekend, featuring a double feature of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons Friday and Saturday and The Lady From Shanghaiand Touch of Evil on Sunday. Also on the weekend, late shows of an apparently nutting lousy horror movie (Birdemic). The Red Riding trilogy pops up again Tuesday - Thursday. It's good.

  • One-week warning at Kendall Square: Air Doll. I'm pretty sure some friends of mine must have seen it at Toronto, because it stars Bae Doo-na in a film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, and those are names in Asian cinema that tend to catch their eye. Also opening are Living in Emergency (with a Doctors Without Borders aid worker at tonight's 7:05 show), Holy Rollers, and IFFBoston Closing Night Film Micmacs

  • At the HFA, one last night of John Ford at War, Saturday starts a couple weeks of Vittorio De Sica - Neo-Realism, Melodrama, Fantasy.

  • The MFA continues the Boston Jewish Film Festival Encores and has just started a retrospective of Rialto's Best of British Noir. I may try to get in there for some of the lesser-known films, but you can't go wrong with Peeping Tom, The Third Man, and a lesser-known classic, The Fallen Idol.

  • This week's major openers are Splice, Killers, Marmaduke, and Get Him to the Greek. I'm heard good things about the last, and interestingly mixed things about the first, but, man, is this the least exciting summer in recent movie memory or what?

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: Slip & Fall (Liberty Hotel, 24 May 2010, 8pm-ish)

Both of the movies I saw last week were things I really wasn't sure of, and went to in part out of a sense of obligation. For Slip & Fall, I was asked, and while this was a busy week and I wasn't sure about the movie, I try not to miss movies where someone asks me to come to the screening. I sometimes don't know why people would come to me, but I also don't figure that turning screenings down will get me invited to more. For Robin Hood, I had one of those AMC rewards program free tickets that expired on the 28th, and, good lord, the options were limited: Iron Man 2, Letters to Juliet, and Robin Hood. I'd seen the first and hated every preview I saw for the second, so Robin Hoodit was.

(Also needing to be used: A gift certificate to Tommy Doyle's in Kendall Square, as I have three that expire at the end of July and you can only use one per month. When I bought them, the Chlotrudis group was going to Tommy's every other week before a movie, so I figured I had plenty of opportunity to use them, but since then, it's been all The Friendly Toast, all the time!)

Slip & Fall

* * (out of four)
Seen 24 May 2010 at the Liberty Hotel (Movie Mondays)

There's nothing less fun to write than that a locally-produced independent comedy isn't very good. You can skewer pretension with dramas, accept unambitious horror movies as just trying to get something made, but a comedy is just trying to entertain you, and when it doesn't, it's and uncomfortable, unfortunate thing.

Slip & Fall has a pleasant enough leading man in Sam Cohan, and Andrew Divoff is amusing as the piece's villain, but it's got a story that always seems forced when it should be rolling from one crazy situation to another. It never really feels right; throughout the whole movie, there's always this lingering question of why these likable characters are involved with these guys who are really just vile. William DeCoff at least pulls being humorously nasty off as a shyster lawyer, but Zofia Gozynska is given so little as the gold-digging Russian girlfriend that she just doesn't make sense. And while I get an appreciate what writer Jason W. Loomis and director Marc Colucci are trying to do at the end, legalistic arguments aren't a great finale for a comedy, especially since, in order to not have the movie be about Cohan's Danny succeeding by pulling a slip & fall scam on his college, they've twisted the lawsuit around into something unrecognizable.

Slip & Fall has some flashes of raucous crudity and surprising sweetness, but too many long stretches between them where things just don't make sense and aren't funny. There's a germ of something good in it, but the skill to get it out just isn't there.

Robin Hood (2010)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 27 May 2010 at AMC Harvard Square #4 (first-run)

Somewhere along the line, I'm sure, there's someone for whom Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is exactly what they want it to be. Likely not the original writers, who posited a story about the Sheriff of Nottingham tracking down a thieving terrorist, or most of the critics, who seem to feel that the Robin Hood story reached its platonic ideal in 1938 and a different telling is almost sacrilege. This movie has been twisted in a dozen different directions over the course of its production, and in some ways only works because enough talent is thrown its way to prevent any rough edges.

But, the thing is, it does work. Maybe not in the way one initially hoped, and in fact Robin Hood becomes a bit of a side story, compared to the political manouverings of Oscar Isaac's Prince John consolidating his power while his closest ally, Godfrey (Mark Strong), is helping the French prepare an invasion. That stuff is good, and engrossing, while the story of Crowe's "Robin Longstride" taking the place of the missing Robert Loxley in Nottingham seems forced and almost a little silly. Crowe, Cate Blanchett, and Max von Sydow do fine work with it, but there's also a sense that they're killing time until Robin can join the battle against the French in the last act. There's references to a storyline about children who have disappeared into the woods and gone feral, but it seems to have mostly been cut from the finished picture.

The end result is actually a pretty good movie, although not much of a Robin Hood story. Quite enjoyable for what it is, but it might be hard to see that if you're looking for it to be something else.

Robin Hood (2010)


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