Tuesday, February 01, 2011

This Week In Tickets: 24 January 2011 to 30 January 2011

This was the first week at the day job's new location, and I can't say I like the new commute. Before, the 70A bus stopped just outside my house, picked me up, and then dropped me off in front of the office's parking structure. It took forty-five minutes or so and only ran every half hour, but was easy to handle. The new one involves walking to Central Square, taking the Red Line to Alewife, and hoping I made it in time for the 8:15 bus which takes an hour to get to the end of the evocatively named Corporate Drive in Burlington, which isn't much fun to walk in the winter.

End result: Not nearly as much stuff seen during the week - in fact, I opted to work from home on Thursday, ostensibly because of the storm, but more because I was pretty sure that getting to Coolidge Corner by 7pm would otherwise be impossible:

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: The Social Network, 30 January 2011, 7:15pm, Somerville Theatre #1

I had plans for Friday and Saturday, but I think Monday's discovery that the 8:50am bus only goes as far as the Burlington Mall (2.2 miles of unshoveled sidewalks and disorienting streets from work) finally caught up with me - I just wanted to drop by mid-afternoon, and even if Saturday wasn't the day Red Sox tickets went on sale online, I just wasn't moving far from bed that day.

Sunday was another screwy day, but one that showed how well-run some of the local theaters are. I made it to Kendall Square just in time to see the 11:35am show of The Illusionist, and fifteen minutes later they announced that power wasn't getting to the projector's lamp. They issued refunds and make-up tickets in an courteous and professional fashion, which hopefully created a good first impression for the families that might not otherwise go there. I'll be checking that out later this week.

It left me finished with my grocery shopping a little early, so I headed up to Davis Square to catch up on stuff I'd missed earlier in the year, Inside Job and The Kids Are All Right. It wasn't until I had my ticket for Kids that I saw it was actually a double feature with The Social Network on the main screen, so even though I'd been planning on going home after two... Free movie I've been putting off! And when they say double feature, they mean it - there was something like a five-minute turnaround between the two films, barely enough time to head to the concession stand for a snack, if you were so inclined.

All three movies were pretty good, although I was certainly reminded that, for all their great prices on tickets and snacks, often creative programming, and fine projection, certain parts of certain auditoria there are, shall we say, snug. The main theater, I get being designed for small nineteenth century people (see also: Fenway Park), but I can see my taller brothers not liking where I was sitting in screen #2 at all!

Inside Job

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 30 January 2010 at The Somerville Theatre #2 (second-run)

Documentaries covering current affairs are often angry things, and while that's as it should be, it often hurts them a bit. Anger's a great motivator, but it often means that the bastards you're interviewing can see you coming, and the audience you most want - and need - to reach will maybe dismiss you out of hand. Most of these documentaries amount to preaching to the converted, even if they don't intend to; the filmmaker's anger gets away from him or her.

Charles Ferguson, on the other hand, has a leash on his. There's no question that he holds many of the subjects of his film in disdain at best - and it is in fact rather satisfying toward the end when he prods an interviewee into losing his cool - but he's too focused on his message to get sidetracked. His portrayals of the people who failed in their responsibilities to safeguard America's economy doesn't split on party lines; every administration from President Reagan's to President Obama's is held at fault. And he doesn't get hysterical - the film is a calm recitation of how the economic crisis of 2008 developed, condensing complicated issues and economic theories into ideas that are readily understandable, with sources cited for those who would like more details.

It's not a perfect documentary or film; although the film openly acknowledges the hypocrisy of it, it does use Elliot Spitzer as an expert witness after making a point of the bad behavior of Wall Street traders. What appears to be the weakest link in the chain of misconduct - the companies which assigned favorable credit ratings to bad stocks - do not seem to be probed very hard. And as fascinating and important as the material is, the segment about how the study of economics in academia has become tainted comes off feeling a bit like a tangent.

Despite that, it's still a well-constructed, informational piece of work, one that I suspect could lead to useful conversations with political opposites, as opposed to simply talking past each other.

The Kids Are All Right

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 30 January 2010 at The Somerville Theatre #1 (second-run; Oscar double-feature)

The Kids Are All Right is a cluttered movie, in a way that studio pictures have a hard time approximating. In a studio picture, I suspect that there would be an attempt to make at least one of the characters' living spaces neat and precise, with a clear meaning to every color and corner. Every subplot would wrap up neatly, or there would be an obvious rationale for why it didn't.

Director Lisa Cholodenko, on the other hand, doesn't do that; as much as anything else, the film's apparently lived-and-worked-in locations give the film a sort of immediate realism that it maybe doesn't have immediately. The characters are, after all, a bit broad, and sometimes it seems like Cholodenko is trying to guide the audience a little too much - we're repeatedly told that the kids and their moms find their sperm donor a bit full of himself, but Mark Ruffalo maybe isn't quite making that impression on the audience. Plus, hey, did you notice that Annette Bening's Nic drinks?

Still, for all the film's weaknesses, it does contain a pretty fantastic performance by Bening - not necessarily subtle at any given point, but shifting between states very smoothly. Among a very nice cast, many of them often doing flashier things, she is almost always the one most worth watching.

The Social Network

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 30 January 2010 at The Somerville Theatre #1 (second-run; Oscar double-feature)

Watching the first few minutes of The Social Network made me wonder what sort of drugs Aaron Sorkin was back on, and whether acting out one of this scripts required being on the same ones. Jesse Eisenberg is playing about the most Aaron Sorkin-y role imaginable - talking fast, diving headlong into work like there's nothng more interesting, jumping back and forth in conversations like he's out of sync with the rest of the world. It's one almost entirely without warmth, though - as written by Sorkin and played by Eisenberg, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is almost a monster. He's capricious and cruel, and it's not like he's unable to feel human emotion at all - he's consumed with envy and jealousy. His personal frailties don't make him close to likable, but certainly interesting.

It's not just Eisenberg's and Sorkin's film, of course - David Fincher and a great cast take the script and make it move; although there's the occasional hitch in jumping between the events as they unfold and the depositions as former partners sue Zuckerberg, the story moves at a good pace. What's perhaps most interesting to me is that there's never the feeling of being on the traditional introduction/development/climax/resolution curve until the very end; it feels like pure forward momentum; even the turning points don't feel like big ones except in retrospect.

I also love the entire cast. Eisenberg's got the most notable performance, playing the outwardly strange guy, but Andrew Garfield is pretty terrific as his friend and initial business partner, doing an interesting thing by making the "suit" the most likable, friendly guy in the movie. Similarly, Armie Hammer plays the twin privileged, smarmy jackasses with such sincerity that they become people almost worth rooting for, even though it's clear exactly what role they play in the story. It's a more honest, oddly idealistic arrogance than that Justin Timberlake brings to his role, although both are funny and hugely entertaining.

With these three movies polished off in one afternoon, I've seen pretty much all of the major nominees for the Oscars - I'm missing Javier Bardem in Biutiful (and I'm good with that), Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, and The Illusionist for Best Animated Feature. I think I'm pretty much done after The Illuisonist and maybe Blue Valentine, then - I'll see the shorts when they play Kendall and the Coolidge starting the 11th, and I don't care how many technical awards Alice in Wonderland is nominated for, that does not count as a gun to my head. (Harry Potter is nominated for a bunch, too, but I figure that it will play one show a day at the Capitol until the last movie comes out)

Maybe I'll do an Oscar column at some point - we don't seem to have one on eFilmCritic - but right now, I just want to eat, sleep, and hope that the snow's not nuts again tomorrow.

My Idiot BrotherInside JobThe Kids Are All Right

1 comment:

TorrentPrivacy said...

I try to keep track of events and cool things I've done in a very similar way.