Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Week In Tickets: 15 November 2010 to 21 November 2010

I'm a bad indie film-lover. All sorts of documentaries playing, and what do I do?

This Week In Tickets!

A fair number of days staying an extra half hour at work make it hard to get to stuff during the week, especially if the non-doc stuff one wants to see is in Arlington or Somerville for one more leg on the T.

It's worth noting that the 10:45am show of Hereafter was the only time it ran during the day for the past five days. Someday, when I get an eccentric millionaire to invest in an Alamo Drafthouse-type theater for me to run, I'll have to figure out the reasoning for scheduling like that. If you're going to be keeping a print around for another week, is that the best way to utilize it? If so, why? Do you figure Hereafter is going to appeal to seniors (or whoever else, aside from me, who is seeing movies at 10:45am)?


* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 20 November 2010 at AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run)

I want to like this movie for the talent involved: Clint Eastwood directing from a script by Peter Morgan. Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall producing. Matt Damon and Cecile De France in leading roles, Bryce Dallas Howard in a supporting part. The easy way for me to dismiss it is to mention my general skepticism about paranormal activities, that I'm just not going to be able to go for a movie that takes them seriously.

And, I won't lie - such elements don't help. Even when Eastwood provides a thump and a visual effect as Damon's George Lonegan character touches someone's hand, I'm still going to process the rest of that scene as a cold read, or wait for the Sherlock Holmes explanation, and I always wind up a little disappointed when George says something that he couldn't have known or deduced; a man who can instinctively read people is much more interesting than a medium, especially when you consider that the movie avoids the big paradox inherent in this sort of spirituality: If the afterlife is so wonderful and peaceful, why should anyone want to live?

Put that aside (I know, it's a little late for that), though, and the individual characters and stories are quite good. All three threads are about people who have had close encounters with death and been changed by the experience, to the point of obsession, and each features a fine performance at the center. Eastwood gives the film a properly somber tone without things ever becoming leaden or depressing. The meat of the movie is quite good, and there's something reassuring about the way the film rotates between Marie, George, and Marcus in order, as opposed to trying to get clever with its editing.

It has issues on the ends, though. The tsunami that opens the film is well-realized, but it does look like a special effect, and there's something just a bit exploitative about using a disaster that devastates a city and region so that one European tourist will almost die. At the finish, all this mournful pondering is apparently in service of these three people eventually meeting at a book fair, which seems coincidental and small. Even considering that the film is about needing to connect with the living rather than the dead, both the physical and philosophical sprawl seem a bit much if the goal is to get a couple people into a restaurant for dinner.

Morning Glory

* * * (out of four)
Seen 21 November 2010 at Regal Fenway #5 (first-run)

Morning Glory is a movie filled with characters and actors I really, really like, but saddled with a script that isn't quite sure how to put them together. It seems to me that if you've got Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton as diametrically opposed news anchors, you maybe let them play off each other a little more, use their bickering as more than background gags, and maybe get them to meet in the middle. I don't think you'd even have to take much focus off of Rachel McAdams to do that; you could even play the anchors' relationship against her character's and Patrick Wilson's.

And, maybe, doing it that way would help balance the dynamic between Ford and McAdams, too. Ford's hard-news-loving former evening news anchor and reporter, whom she hires to add gravitas to the fourth-place morning news program, is given so little to do that fits his skills that it makes McAdams's young executive producer look a little foolish.

Just a little, though. McAdams is rather delightful in this movie, all full-speed-ahead enthusiasm and dedication, genuinely funny and self-deprecating. Her driven character keeps the movie from ever slowing down too much, and Ford makes a fine grumpy foil to her (a grumbling combination of idealism and ego). The movie is in a way aggressively light - Ford's character is kind of beaten down in the end, his desire to be informative and substantial broken down, even after we're shown the characters getting a rush from actually breaking news - but it's fairly funny. It's just too bad the pieces don't fit together a little better.

HereafterThe Azemichi RoadMorning Glory

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