Tuesday, March 06, 2012

This Week In Tickets: 27 February 2012 - 4 March 2012

I'm going to try and keep this quick, in large part because most of what's on it is going to be getting its own review as well, and who really needs to write about things twice?

This Week In Tickets!

In some ways, seeing this particular line-up this was was the result of poor planning; I thought Japanese class started up again on Saturday, so I rushed out of the house and through the rain to get there only to realize that it was starting on the 10th. That did give me time to fit in a couple of things I would have had to find a space for later in the week, but I might have preferred to do it without being so rushed. I also was strongly considering a day-trip to NYC to see the new movie by Makoto Shinkai at the New York Children's International Film Festival, but that sold out before I stopped dithering. If it doesn't play Fantasia, I'll be kicking myself hard.

Plus, rejoice! The Red Line has been shut down between Harvard Square and Alewife during weekends for the last few months, but re-opens this Saturday. I missed a few minutes of You Only Live Twice on Sunday because the shuttle buses are much slower. I think I still might have been late anyway, unless I ducked out of Tyrannosaur while the credits were still running, but it's tremendously frustrating to watch the clock at the front of the bus tick past your movie's start time while stuck in traffic.


* * * * (out of four)
Seen 28 February 2012 in the Arlington Capitol #1 (second-run, Real-D)

There's no reason to go over Hugo's many virtues here again; I gushed over it last December, and my feelings about it have not changed that much in the interim. It's a charming little film that doesn't just gush with love of the movies but is also a really fun kids' mystery. It uses 3D extremely well, too.

It's also really fun to see a movie in theaters and then arrive home and find the Blu-ray waiting for you. The movie being an Oscar contender (and eventual winner, though The Artist took most of the marquee categories) did a nice job of extending its run and having it re-open on a few screens in the run-up to the awards. It will be interesting to see how long it sticks around the smaller 3D rooms, since the movie looks really good in that format and most of us don't have a 3D television to watch it on. Seeing a movie in the theater three times during its initial release is pretty rare for me, but who knows when I'll have another chance to see it like this?

Ai (Love)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 3 March 2012 in AMC Boston Common #3 (first-run, DLP)

Not exactly the movie I thought it was going to be - there have been two different movies whose name translates to Love over the last few years, one an anthology and this one a set of three overlapping tales. This one's got Shu Qi, though, and there's not a much more pleasant surprise than sitting down for a movie and seeing her face appear.

The cast is, in general, pretty good - an attractive group that has chemistry enough to make up for some of the deficiencies in the screenplay. It's not really a bad story, but two of its three pieces overlap too much to be as separate as they are, and there's one pairing that perhaps doesn't really deliver the audience to its ending. It's a pleasant enough group of stories, though, and I suspect that each storyline is kind of a tweener - not really big enough to become a feature of its own but needing a little more room than it gets here.

Kill List

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 3 March 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run/IFFBoston Presents, 35mm)

You think you're pretty hip to certain genre conventions, and you even go years talking about this sort of movie without looking like some sort of ignorant goof, and then it suddenly seems like this thing is all over the place. I'm not going to say what "this thing" is, but it plays into Kill List's final act big-time, and I kind of suspect that it's something native English people are much more likely to get than me.

Potentially peculiar ending aside, Kill List is the new movie by Ben Wheatley, last seen on the festival circuit with Down Terrace, and it's immediately clear that it shares a lot of DNA with that movie. It sits squarely in the Venn Diagram intersection between "crime" and "yelling family" movies, with what seems like a decided slant toward the latter at first. And as a portrait of a volatile marriage and family, it's pretty fantastic; I could watch a lot of Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring as a young married couple fighting over the lack of income and such even if they never did reveal that Maskell's Jay was a hired gun. And then if the new job with Michael Smiley's Gal didn't...

Ah, but that would be telling. Let me just say that, even though I personally could have used more detail there, I like Wheatley's commitment to an unusual story, and he doesn't spring the late twists completely out of nowhere. I do think the finale comes off as a little ____-for-the-sake-of-being-____, although, again, that may just be my relative ignorance.

We Have a Pope (Habemus Papam)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 4 March 2012 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #2 (Talk Cinema, 35mm)

I'm not sure whether Habemus Papam is built with people like me in mind or if I'm a part of the audience that really doesn't matter. It is, after all, a movie about the Catholic Church, and I'm so non-religious I refer to myself as not being superstitious. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in some of what the movie has to say - indeed, I'm kind of fascinated by the idea of how a large, singular organization with a unique structure works - I just might be inclined to see it in a way that filmmaker Nanni Moretti may not intend.

To give it its due, it starts out with the right actor in the middle of a pretty fantastic hook - Michel Piccoli plays Father Melville, a long-serving Cardinal who is elected Pope, but just as he is about to be announced, he has a panic attack, leaving the Church utterly flummoxed about what to do next. Early on, Moretti does an excellent job of nailing both the satirical possibilities of the situation and a respect for Melville's faith and how that puts him in crisis. The finale picks up on the latter in a way that demands further exploration.

In between, though, he loses his way badly. The situation within the Vatican goes from absurd but incisive to just silly and tiresome, while Melville's personal odyssey seems clear enough in intention without really having the detail and big moments to give it weight. It's easy to lose patience and wish Moretti would get back to making his point more directly, because the idea and star deserve much better execution.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 4 March 2012 in the Museum of Fine Arts Alfond Auditorium (Special Engagement, 35mm)

This one is going to get paired with Kill List for review for a number of reasons - there's a lot of the same companies behind them and other similarities, not the least of which is an opening that spews rage and a jaw-dropping finale. It's an unfair pairing in that they are different genres looking to do very things; so saying I like this one even more kind of doesn't matter.

It's an impressive, flattening feature, though; Paddy Considine does an excellent job in his first feature behind the camera. In front of the camera, Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman are excellent as the tormented widower and traumatized woman he connects with. They've apparently played these characters before, in Considine's short "Dog Altogether", and it's impressive how nothing feels inorganic - every single horrible thing that happens moves the story forward, and it's not just empty suffering - the finale, while matching the tone of the rest of the movie thoroughly, offers more than just a crescendo of misery

Impressive. I've liked Considine as an actor since In America, and now can't wait to see what else he's going to do behind the camera, as well.

HugoJames Bond WeekendLove (Ai)Kill ListWe Have a PopeTyrannosaur

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