Monday, September 10, 2012

This Week In Tickets: 3 September 2012 - 9 September 2012

Busy week!

This Week In Tickets!

A lot of it was packed into the weekend, but there was a lot of good variety. I must admit, I'm kind of disappointed in myself that all I did for moviegoing on Labor Day was The Ocean Waves; I was still pretty wiped out from the pre-code marathon on Saturday night. Getting old sucks.

Still, I was happy to get the chance to see a couple favorites on the big screen. I kind of wonder if Regal would have announced and advertised that The Avengers was going to be one of four films they played on the deluxe RPX screen for a reduced price if they knew Disney would be bringing it back Labor Day weekend to try and goose the box office a little bit; the $5 I paid to see it in 3D on the screen with the great sound and comfy seats was less than half what the 2D show in one of the lesser screens cost. Not that this was a bad plan; there wasn't a whole lot worthy of the deluxe screen that weekend and reduced prices might have given some people impetus to sample and discover that, yeah, it really is worth a buck or two to upgrade from the standard. Suffice it to say, that wasn't exactly the plan with Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Imax-branded screen across town; despite basically being promotion for the upcoming Blu-ray release, that's a full-cost ticket, and I half-suspect that it will look better in 35mm at the Brattle.

Between them, there was one long day of movies - I saw (and liked) [REC] 3 at midnight on Friday, got home, and because there was still blood pumping, wrote a review before hitting the sack at four-thirty. You'd think my body would take the hint and let me sleep until noon, but no, the body can't read a calendar like the brain can, and it tought I had to go to work or something on Saturday. So, I was able to make it to matinees of Branded and Bachelorette and regret it. That is one occasion when you make use of the refillable large soda, let me tell you, although that second Coke Zero tastes disgusting.

Also disgusting: Sunday's baseball game. Well, not really completely disgusting, as Buchholz looked really good and might have won the game for the team if not for some subpar defense in the 4th. Still, it was nice to head down to a friend's seats and visit toward the end of the game, especially since I got stuck holding extra tickets again.

Umi ga kikoeru (The Ocean Waves)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 3 September 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (Castles in the Sky: Ghibli, digital)

The Ocean Waves is seen relatively rarely in the United States; having been made for Japanese television, featuring no fantasy elements, and not being directed by either of Studio Ghibli's most renowned filmmakers (Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata), it never received a DVD release here. Too bad; it's a nice little movie, worth a look if the touring Ghibli retrospective lands in your town.

Taku (voice of Nobuo Tobita) and Yutaka (voice of Toshihiko Seki) were never in the same homeroom at school, but became close friends when they were the only ones to protest the cancellation of their class trip. One day, Yutaka calls Taku during vacation to give him exciting news about a transfer student: Rikako (voice of Yoko Sakamoto) comes to their small town from Tokyo and is pretty, athletic, and smart; Yutaka clearly has a crush already. But when Rikako gets in a bind during their senior class trip, it's Taku she turns to, leading to a number of messy situations.

Though Taku serves as the movie's narrator and certainly comes into his own over the course of the film, the focal point is clearly Rikako, his first experience with how simultaneously wonderful and frustrating women and other people can be. For a character in a seventy-two minute animated movie, she's a surprisingly rich creation - often aloof, scheming, and self-centered, although the roots of her less appealing qualities serve to make her a sympathetic figure. She's clearly got some issues, and they are lodged deep enough that it's going to take more than a weekend with Taku to resolve them.

Full review at eFilmCritic

The Avengers

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 4 September 2012 in Regal Fenway #13 (second-run, Sony digital/RPX 3D)

It's interesting to see how there's been a bit of walking-back of some of the ebuillant praise of The Avengers from the start of the summer, though I still like it as much as I did then. I think part of that is sidestepping comparisons to The Dark Knight Rises in end-of-season/year pieces. When director Joss Whedon says "it's not a great film, but it is a great time", that's a line being drawn: You can have the critics who talk about thematic richness and real-world parallels, but man, did allow that we blew stuff up really well.

And that's fair, but it is worth mentioning that I dropped some cash to see this again for a second time four months later and I don't know if I'll do that should The Dark Knight Rises still be playing the Aquarium in November. The Avengers really is a lot of fun, and of the three superhero movies to come out this summer, it's the one that happily embraces its genre the most. The Amazing Spider-Man never seemed to really embrace the fact that it's about Peter Parker fighting a were-lizard who wants to turn the rest of New York into were-lizards; TDKR (like its predecessors) does such a good job of grounding its world and avoiding the overtly fantastical material from the comics that it's sometimes tough to recognize just how much larger than life those movies are.

Still, it's kind of amazing that Marvel started this franchise with Iron Man, both because Iron Man is pretty close to that universe's Batman, and has ramped it up to flying space monsters within about five years. And over the course of the next cycle leading up to Avengers 2, they're going to have James Gunn direct a movie that features Rocket Racoon. That, folks, is kind of amazing.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 9 September 2012 in AMC Boston Common #2 (special engagement, Imax-branded digital)

Raiders of the Lost Ark is as close to perfect as a movie can be, and I've said things along these lines before (though apparently not since 2006). I don't know if I still think it gets better every time I watch it - in part that's me; I vacillate between favoring its recreation of classic acting styles and something more naturalistic; I've gotten more analytical with scripts and can spot where it doesn't quite make sense - but it's still really, really good.

And, it's not just really good, but gets better toward the end. Not that there aren't great moments before then, but once Indy punches out of the Well of Souls... Well, the sustained action until the end is amazing. The fistfight on and around the flying wing has the sort of precise choreography you generally expect from Hong Kong, humor, and just an amazing way of escalating , with each thing Indy and company does making something else happen that will catch up with him two or three beats later in the scene. Then, it leads into the horse/car/truck chase, and you know how Indy says "Nazis... I hate these guys!" in Last Crusade? He really does; there's a nasty sort of joy on his face as he throws them from the truck. And then the island...

Yeah, any chance to see it on the big screen is money well spent. If you're in Boston, well, I'm certainly not going to suggest missing it while it's on the Imax-branded screen at Boston Common, although I did think there were a couple of weird moments with projection, and unless Imax has upgraded the specs of these theaters in the last couple of years, the raw resolution (basically HDTV quality) is actually less than the 4K screens everywhere else in the building. There will be a new 35mm print playing the Brattle at the end of October, though, and for less money to boot.

The Ocean WavesThe Avengers[REC] 3BrandedBacheloretteSox 3, Jays 4Raiders of the Lost Ark

No comments: