Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Week In Tickets: 15 October 2012 - 21 October 2012

This week's distractions: More baseball (the Yankees being stomped by the Tigers was great fun) and trying to make my way through Charles Stross's Rule 34. I love the guy, but an entire book with multiple viewpoint characters in the second person would be kind of a tough slog even without the Scottish slang. Plus a cold that is lingering a bit more than I'd like.

This Week in Tickets

Stubless: The Other Son, Sunday 15 October at Coolidge Corner (no ticket, just a box to check off).

Once more, not hugely busy during the week as I was sort of in a "check mail for MoviePass card / not there / watch baseball / hope for tomorrow" sort of loop. Monday's CineCaché film was the sparsely-attended Headshot, which I liked well enough though everyone seemed to agree that it could have used more use of its central gimmick. The IFFBoston crew was co-presenting it and used the opportunity to plug Tai Chi Zero, the crazy martial arts movie that opened at Boston Common the next Friday (and is getting another week! go see it!). That was actually a lot of fun, and had one of the biggest audiences I've seen for a Chinese movie at the Common in a while.

I was at the Common again the next night for Sinister, which I'd meant to see anyway but which I hit that night because Argo was sold out at the Coolidge when I got there. First time I've seen a horror movie with a large crowd of this type in a while (as I mention in the post, a genre festival crowd is no less enthusiastic, but different, more likely to applaud the scare moments than jump at them), and it was fun.

Finally, it was a busy back-and-forth Sunday: The 10am Talk Cinema show of The Other Son at the Coolidge (and, wow, can that be too early, especially on a Sunday morning when the buses don't quite line up to beat walking), heading to Somerville for The Phantom of the Opera with live accompaniment, after which I had to decide which of those two theaters would get my money for Argo in 35mm, with the Coolidge winning out in large part so I could run some errands and eat in between.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 21 October 2012 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Special Event, 35mm w/ live accompaniment)

I should have snapped a picture of both accompanist Jeff Rapsis and projectionist Dave Kornfeld in their Sunday best before the film. Mostly for Dave; projectionists are usually dressed pretty casually since booths can get hot (I wonder if digital is making that less true). An amusing sight.

I've seen this movie before (in the same theater, even) with the Alloy Orchestra providing the music, although it was too long ago for me to really have much of an opinion on how different the two experiences were. It remains an excellent flick, especially when you consider that it was somewhat groundbreaking for its time, and the print they borrowed from a California collector was pretty spiffy, with original tints and hand-coloring for the ball sequence.

After the film, Rapsis mentioned that they were planning a few more silent films, including Harold Lloyd in Girl Shy come Valentine's Day. Can't wait.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 21 October 2012 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (first-run, 35mm)

Argo is what I want from my movies: A good story, well-told. That this particular story is true barely matters; what's important is that it's a neat idea, witty, filled with nifty little moments, and confident enough in itself that it doesn't have to pump things up more than it has to.

As much as director Ben Affleck gets the visual style of the 1970s just right, it's interesting just how much he's got the vibe and pacing there too. It compares well the stuff I saw a week and a half earlier, unspooling its story at a deceptively leisurely pace, making it seem like relatively little is happening but still increasing the tension steadily. Argo doesn't need big action scenes as punctuation; it establishes danger in the first scene and never moves too far from it.

You can do that when you've got a cast full of great character actors. Affleck himself is a movie star, sure, but he goes with the beard and mild-mannered nature that allows his character to blend into the scenery (itself sort of a throwback to 1970s movies). He bounces between multiple settings, but there's always someone great to work off: John Goodman and Alan Arkin in Hollywood; Bryan Cranston at the CIA; Victor Garber, Clea DuVall, Tate Donovan et alia in Iran... Heck, an uncredited Philip Baker Hall shows up in one scene to be paired with Bob Gunton as both the punchline to one of the movie's best jokes and a scene that is amusing without it.

Argo is deceptively low-key, and while it's rough in a spot or two, it's a delightful throwback and a ton of fun even without a lot of context.

(Plus, Jack Kirby as a character! How cool is that?)

Tai Chi Zero
Phantom of the Opera


David the Projectionist said...


Wrong again!

1. "since booths can get hot (I wonder if digital is making that less true)."

Digital runs much hotter.

2. "with original tints"

Hardly, as the print was on colour stock.

3. "and hand-coloring for the ball sequence."

No. That was not hand coloured, that was a sequence shot in two-strip Technicolor.
Learn your film history!!

Anonymous said...

ARGO does NOT have Jack Kirby as a character. For some reason Affleck and the writers don't mention him. Kirby WAS part of the true story behind the film. It's another example of a missed opportunity in ARGO. It's a decent film, but there is much B.S. in it as well, sadly.

Jason said...

Phantom -

(1) Huh. For some reason, I always think of mechanical processes as generating heat more than electronic ones, despite the waste heat this very laptop puts out.

(2) Well, the content was original, even if the process wasn't.

(3) Oops, got it confused with the restoration. Still a pretty amazing sight in the middle of the B&W movie

Argo -

Kirby is in this, if only for a minute (the artist asking what kind of "Middle Eastern" they should go for), and the credit acknowledges the concept art in the movie was "created in the style of Jack Kirby" by another artist.

Anonymous said...

ARGO- Kirby did the original artwork, yes. BUT, BEFORE THE CIA WAS INVOLVED AT ALL. And even though the credits say Michael Parks is playing Kirby, you wouldn't know this from the film. A minor point. Especially compared to almost the entire Airport sequence which is 99% BULLSH!T.