Saturday, July 03, 2010

Last Week In Tickets: 21 June 2010 to 27 June 2010

This is me practicing chaining myself to the computer to not fall too far behind a self-imposed deadline before trying to make daily posts in Montreal:

  • That's annoying: The Brattle continues its tribute to Dennis Hopper, but the film that gave the series its name, The American Dreamer, is canceled. They make up for it with extra screenings of The Trip and The Glory Stompers (double features with Easy Rider, and shall inflict Super Mario Brothers on those who dare to come tonight at 9:30pm. Tuesday brings Mad Dog Morgan (though it is still marked "tentative"), and Wednesday at Thursday is a late-career, scenery-chewing double feature of Speed and Waterworld.

    They take a break on Monday for P-star Rising, the latest in a bi-weekly documentary presentations. This one's about a girl rapper who starts out at nine years old.

  • The Coolidge and Kendall Square both open I Am Love, which I saw at IFFBoston and kind of hated, although many seem much more forgiving of its interminable and ridiculous second half than I.

    The Coolidge also celebrates the holiday weekend with Independence Day a fitting and timely start to their "The End is Nigh" series of July midnights. The most interesting thing there this week (presuming you haven't already seen Winter's Bone, which you should), looks to be a Thursday night screening of Off and Running presented by both the Roxbury International and Boston Jewish Film Festivals with the documentary's subject Avery Klein-Cloud doing a Q&A afterward. Wish I could go.

  • The one-week warning at Kendall Square is for The Killer Inside Me, which in contrast to I Am Love, I seem to like while everybody else could go without. They also opened Love Ranch and Afghan war documentary Restrepo.

    They're also making the somewhat surprising (to me) decision have a Lisbeth Salander-free week before opening The Girl Who Played With Fire on the 9th; I figured they might want to keep The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo around long enough for double features. (And, BTW, if anybody knows of a preview screening in Boston before Thursday, drop me a line; I'd like to see this before heading north for Fantasia, though if it has even half of the first's longevity, it'll still be there when I get back)

  • New mainstream openings are The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which has probably gotten me a lot more hits on my review of Irish ghost story The Eclipse than the latter coming out on DVD on the 29th, and The Last Airbender, which has gotten vicious reviews. Not just negative, vicious, being as it is the intersection between half-assed price-gouging 3-D and another apparent disappointment from M. Night Shamalayan, whom critics just seem to not like personally. Myself, I quite liked everything he's done from The Sixth Sense to The Village, and don't think Lady in the Water and The Happening are quite so bad as their reputations, so I may check it out.

    On flat 35mm film, if I do; that's what it was shot for, and reports indicate that it's not worth the $5 fee theaters are charging now.

This Week In Tickets!

Yikes, that's a lot of movies crammed into a short about of time. Good prep work for Fantasia, I guess, but as I mentioned in the SF-1970 blog entry, I was pooped the next day.

Now, quick reviews, because it is way too nice to sit here typing this stuff much longer:

Harry Brown

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 June 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square (first-run)

The positive here, obviously, is that you get to watch Michael Caine and to a lesser extent Emily Mortimer act. They're pretty darn terrific in this story of Brown (Caine), a pensioner driven to clean up his neighborhood after the murder of his best friend by the punks who hang out around their council flats. Naturally, he's pretty successful, since he was special forces in Northern Ireland before his wife of forty-odd years domesticated him. Mortimer plays the detective who sees that the common thread in the kids being executed is not a gang war.

I've long held to the principle of not messing with old men. Forget that you don't know their history, and he may have fought in a war or something. The simple fact of the matter is that they are the people that natural selection hasn't been able to do anything with yet, while the jury is still out on people half their age. Naturally, nobody else in the movie has come to that realization.

That's about the only lesson the movie has for us, though - as good as Caine is, we never really see a man whose soul is being eaten away by what he chooses to do, even though it's something he rejected explicitly. There's an icky, pro-vigilantism feel toward the end of the movie, along with a plot twist that adds to the violence but seems out of place in a film that, up until then, had been very straightforward.

Knight and Day

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 26 June 2010 at AMC Boston Common #1 (first-run)

What a frustrating movie. On the one hand, director James Mangold gives it a fun, breezy tone, making it a spy movie that's light-hearted without ever quite dropping down to the level of parody. It's also a clever use of Tom Cruise, allowing his twin images of being a charismatic movie star and also being kind of nuts to work for the character. It's not transformational acting, but it's a good use of what movie stars bring to the table.

On the other hand, it seldom manages more than just "pretty decent" in terms of execution. There's a car chase in the first act that frustrated the heck out of me because it seemed inconsistent from one point to another (going from a crowded street to one where the characters have room to maneuver and back without any rhyme or reason), and neither the action nor the jokes ever makes the leap to become a moment that the audience will remember after the movie ends.

(As an aside, they establish Cameron Diaz's character early on as having the very non-girly business of restoring classic cars, and I'm kind of shocked that at no point did the action require her to fix a car. While that would be formulaic, it would also give her a bit more to do than scream like a madwoman.)

Harry BrownDeath Race 2000Phase IVKnight and DayIp Man 2The Storm WarriorsBodyguards and AssassinsEchoes of the Rainbow

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