Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week In Tickets: 28 February 2011 to 6 March 2011

I should start marking the days I made it into the office, the days I got as far as Alewife and just missed the bus, and the days when I realized after looking at the weather or the clock that it just wasn't happening that day, if only so I know why certain weeks are barren and certain other weeks look like this:

This Week In Tickets!

Notice the two different-colored Brattle tickets? Yeah, my Brattle membership card went through the wash sometime last week, and instead of just asking for a new one, I opted to renew my membership early. In between, though, that meant paying full price for a ticket there. Let this be a lesson to everyone - don't just shove things in your pocket when you're done with them, but put them back where they belong. Not that non-morons need this advice, just scatterbrained people like me.

I probably can't reasonably write much more about Metropolis other than to say it remains awesome and I am very glad that I finally got a chance to see it with the Alloy Orchestra. I stupidly waited long enough that the ticket I bought was way the heck in the upper balcony, though not far off-center, and seeing as there are apparently no film prints of the restored cut in the Western Hemisphere, a certain amount of distance isn't a bad thing. Maybe they'll dig up another in the next few months, as there was an announcement before the show that the Alloy will return to Somerville this fall, as the film was sold-out and they'd like to provide another opportunity for us to see it. It's not on their tour schedule yet, but... we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm bummed that my Blu-ray doesn't include that Alloy's score, because I think I like it more than the "official" score on the disc and the one from Montreal. A CD or an MP3 playlist that I could sync with the movie's playback is something I'd pay some cash money for.

Robbery (1967)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 March 2011 in the Brattle Theatre (Tribute to Peter Yates)

Not available on video, and this print was very red, so if it ever does get released in the US, it will have to be taken from another source.

It's a nifty little heist flick, bookended by a pair of very impressive heists, both on moving targets - a car in the beginning, and a train in the end. The car chase is pretty fantastic, and is a large part of the reason Warner Brothers and Steve McQueen would bring director Peter Yates to the United States the next year to direct Bullitt. In between, the movie features the sort of terse, tense character work that another popular Yates movie (at least around these parts), The Friends of Eddie Coyle, is known for - not a lot seeming to happen, but each small scene revealing a great deal about its characters. It's the sort of crime movie that actors must love, with a nice caper structure but lots of chances to bring out little details of their characters.

It's not perfect - the early part of the film spends a fair amount of time building up a character who turns out to be relatively unimportant, and the train robbery feels like a whole lot has been left to chance - but it's nifty, at the very least; good enough that I'd like to see it with the colors intact.

The Adjustment Bureau

* * * (out of four)
Seen 5 March 2011 in Regal Fenway #12 (first-run)

I must admit, I was a little skeptical of this one - the previews make it look a lot like Dark City (only less imaginative); as pretty as Emily Blunt is (and as good as many of the movies she's been in are), she's usually less than captivating; and to be honest, the central premise isn't all that interesting. The question of whether or not we have free will sounds important, but when you get right down to it, it's of little practical use.

Still, the movie is pretty good. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt work very well together; they'd be a lot of fun to watch in a more conventional romance. The supporting cast is nicely put together - even John Slattery, the middle-management "agent", has a comfortable and fresh presence on screen that made his absence notable in later scenes. And while a certain amount of the world-building writer/director George Nolfi does around Philip K. Dick's original short story feels kind of arbitrary, there are some clever bits to it, as well: Not soon after I start feeling annoyed that Damon's David does something unilaterally, Blunt's Elise calls him on it, even though a lot of female leads would let it slide. And what seems like a simple happy ending has a bit of a sour center - it implies that the triumph is less a victory for David and Elise taking what they want than events simply following the course of least resistance, or you can posit that "the Plan" is more elaborate, with the "agent" characters maybe more rooks than pawns, but still just playing pieces to the "Chairman".

And, of course, by "agent" and "Chairman", I mean "angels" and "God". Nolfi manages to make that connection early on without getting too cute about it, and having titular Bureau be angels makes the magic hats seem like a bit less of a goofy random detail (not that I connected hats and halos until this very moment, mind you...). Still, as much as I like the meme going through pop culture recently about how angels are, really, sort of dicks (see also: Knowing, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica), the movie uses it to set up the "when mankind is left to itself, the world goes to hell; God in charge makes things work" idea. It annoys me in real life, and I think this movie's themes really require contradicting it a bit more.


* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 6 March 2011 in AMC Boston Common #5 (first-run)

For all the well-deserved recent hand-wringing about what a cowardly lot Hollywood studios have been lately, it's good to see that sometimes a movie like Rango can make its way through the system. After all, this thing is not only not based on some existing property, but it's downright bizarre; I'd estimate that roughly once every ten minutes, there's something to make the audience wonder how Paramount, at every stage of the process, would look at John Logan's script, or at the renders coming out of Industrial Lights and Magic, and say "yes, this is the direction we want to go."

It's amazing and to be lauded that they did, though. As much as the weirdness is sometimes off-putting, it's also the sort of thing that occasionally just stops the audience's ability to process dead - when moles riding bats are chasing down lizards in a convoy wagon being pulled by some sort of rodent or chicken, it's just so gloriously strange (though also a darn good action scene) that you've got no choice but to just go with it. The movie is basically a cartoon-animal version of Chinatown, but somehow director Gore Verbinski and company walk the meandering line between slapstick and surreality without often being too clever for their own good.

A Somewhat Gentle ManRobberyEvangelion 2.0The Adjustment BureauMetropolisMooz-lumRango

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