Feeling well and getting out!
MoviePass finally got my card to me, although it was still a frustrating week of not actually getting to use it properly: The browser on my phone wasn't allowing location data to be sent on Tuesday, so (already being at the theater) I wound up shelling out for Seven Psychopaths. Wednesday I discovered that it apparently doesn't acknowledge the existence of Landmark Kendall Square at all, and then Saturday, when I finally thought everything was working, it didn't work on Cloud Atlas at all. Turns out that because my first card never arrived and I had them send me a new one, their system and my pocket had different card numbers. Hopefully that's cleared up, but Sunday's issue was that the system no longer includes 3D and IMAX movies, even if the ticket for Silent Hill: Revelation actually cost less than the one for Cloud Atlas.
Frustrating. I'm hoping to try it out for real in the coming days, but this new, easier, more flexible system tripping me up is kind of funny.
In between those incidents, there was ShudderFest at the Somerville Theatre on Friday night, featuring American Mary and Murder University, which wound up being a fun (if late) night. The former was pretty darn good while the latter was pretty darn acceptable.
And, finally, there's no better way to wash the ick of a pretty bad horror movie off than seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in 35mm.
* * (out of four)
Seen 23 October 2012 in AMC Boston Common #11 (first-run, digital)
I was expecting much better things out of this one based on the talent involved, particularly considering just how well Martin McDonagh and Colin Farrell worked together on In Bruges. Instead, things wind up pretty bland and inert: Even when what should be exciting things are happening, McDonagh and company seem determined to talk things to death.
The big trouble is that this movie is much too self-referential and roman-a-clef-y; it's Irish screenwriter Martin McDonagh writing a movie about an Irish guy named Martin agonizing over a screenplay. A large chunk of the film seems to be exposing the fallacy of "write what you know" - if you knew cool stuff, you'd be off doing cool things and not writing screenplays - and then the last act has characters continually talking about how cinematic final showdowns work and how this place is perfect. That can certainly be clever in some situations, but in this one they wind up mostly setting a bar they can't clear either in terms of pure action or having a really clever satiric take on it.
It's not all bad, obviously - not by a long shot. When McDonagh sets things up so that two people are in a room and just acting with each other, there are some great moments. The best is probably between Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken in a hospital waiting room just after something big happens; the promise of the title suddenly seems much more real. Walken, in particular, is good throughout the movie, but really steps it up there; a number of the other memorable scenes feature him, too.
Unfortunately, there just aren't nearly enough of them to even knit into an "uneven but good more often than not" movie, just the occasional incongruously well-done bit in a generally disappointing couple of hours.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
* * * * (out of four)
Seen 28 October 2012 in the Brattle Theatre (special engagement, 35mm)
When Raiders of the Lost Ark is playing on the big screen in your area, you go and see it.
I admit that I have occasionally not obeyed this imperitive, but I do try, even when it's been less than two months since I saw it in digital "Imax" (a booking that was apparently successful enough that the movie hung around in regular digital projection for a week or two afterward). I get a fair number of opportunities; both the Brattle and the Coolidge seem happy to show the movie once a year or thereabouts, so it's possible that I'll never have to actually use the Blu-ray in the new box set.
I've got to say, though, this was perhaps the best I've ever seen it. The Brattle folks had raved on Twitter about just how amazing the new 35mm print looked, and while I was initially a bit skeptical - the first reel did look a bit scratched - I was soon a believer; it looked better than what I'd seen at Boston Common in September. That may be influenced in part by the placebo effect/confirmation bias - I expect 35mm to look better than digital, so I tend to see it that way. Or maybe it came from seating; I was close enough to the front at the Common to need my peripheral vision, while the front row at the Brattle still has a fair amount of stage between the viewer and the screen. As much as Raiders is a big-screen adventure, it's not quite built for Imax-type viewing.
At any rate, this new print looked stunningly good, and I'm guessing that the restoration (which almost certainly took place inside a computer) was done at a fairly high resolution - even on a modern film print, I can usually spot jaggies in the titles, but they were pretty smooth here. And since the movie was just as good as it was two months ago (nigh-perfect), the fact that there are new prints that look this good floating around means that the opening imperative holds doubly true now:
When Raiders of the Lost Ark is playing on the big screen in your area, you go and see it!
(Eagerly awaits Dave's corrections on the technical stuff)