Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Week In Tickets: 20 May 2013 - 26 May 2013

Ah, festival reviewing and post-festival catch-up done, so it's time to just sit back and take it easy...

This Week in Tickets

Stubless: Rabbit Horror 3D (24 May 2013, Jay's Living Room, 10pm-ish)

... or, alternately, I could spend a week more or less gorging on movies, stopping only to watch baseball. That's another option.

The two overlapped on Monday, as I saw 42 at the Fenway cinema, complete with hot dogs (tip: the hot-dog sliders are not actually a bad deal, costing $5 or so for the equivalent of roughly two full-sized franks, which cost $4.50 a pop). Not a great dinner, but I'd likely have much worse by the time the week was over. It was actually kind of relaxing to have a half-hour more than usual to get to the Fenway area compared to the usual time for a ballgame. I sort of had the opposite problem on Tuesday, getting to the Regent Theatre well early for What Maisie Knew but not really hungry enough to choose one of the local restaurants.

Wednesday was comics day, and I met up with a friend from the comic shop for Thursday night's ballgame. The Red Sox lost, pretty decisively, at the hands of former manager Terry Francona. It got so ugly that by the time Tony left, we knew to check the Bruins score when we heard happy sounds. By the end, the Bruins had lost, it was raining, and it seemed like sports in Boston sucked - a feeling which (spoilers!) would not last the weekend.

Friday I stayed in, watched the game on TV, and eventually decided to finally give the Blu-ray player and 3D converter I purchased a month earlier a field test with Rabbit Horror 3D (sure, it says "Tormented" on the box, but c'mon!). Decent movie, and while the tech I used to watch it in 3D wasn't great, it was capable and a neat thing to have. I spent long enough writing it up on Saturday that I sort of blew past my original plans for moviegoing, which involved Pain & Gain and one of the newer shows at the Aquarium, but Fast & Furious 6 followed by the Alloy Orchestra performing life with From Morn to Midnight, a strangely (and unjustly) obscure bit of silent German Expressionism, made for an interesting double feature.

Sunday was initially a bummer - I'd purchased a four-pack of baseball tickets during the winter figuring someone in my family could use them, but everyone turned out to be busy for what seemed like legitimate reasons (if I find out anybody was marathon-watching Arrested Development, there'll be hell to pay), so they missed a really great game that ended on a fantastic comeback. After, I did another double feature which seemed much more logical on the surface (Epic & The Painting), although they wound up not quite so similar as one might think for both being animated family movies about small people living in a hidden world.

Busy week. But when watching baseball with a friend from good seats is the only part that doesn't really turn out as well as one might expect, you're doing pretty well.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 20 May 2013 in Regal Fenway #6 (first-run, 4k DCP)

42 turned out more or less exactly as expected. That's not really a bad thing - it's a good story, told fairly well, and the audience is going to feel pretty good after watching it. Its biggest shortcoming, perhaps, is that baseball fans have been told this story rather a lot - MLB can be rather self-congratulatory about being ahead of the curve on civil rights every April 15th, and Ken Burns's Baseball miniseries was just as much about race in America as the game, with Jackie Robinson obviously a central part of that - so it would have been nice to see details and facets of this story that don't get told as much. Writer/director Brian Helgeland doesn't really do that.

Of course, it just may be the case that the legend is close to the truth, and side characters like Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) and his temporary replacement as Dodgers manager Clyde Sukeforth (Toby Huss) didn't add that much, and there would be no satisfying way of continuing beyond the end of Jackie's first season with the Dodgers and showing how things maybe changed when he was no longer being asked to not fight back. The cast does well with these characters that circumstances made larger-than-life, though - Chadwick Boseman, in particular, always has a look about him that says Robinson wasn't necessarily comfortable being a piece of history, that he sees exceptions being made for him and doesn't know if he merits it. I kind of liked that; it makes him the right guy at the right time rather than something predestined. Harrison Ford goes the other way as Branch Rickey, giving a broad performance that never lets the audience forget that it's a movie star playing someone just as famous, but Rickey needs to be big, and Ford really captures how Rickey (at least, in Helgeland's version) may not be completely altruistic in having Robinson break baseball's color line, but is less mercenary than he lets on.

But you know what I like most about 42? It's a baseball movie. Not "just" a civil rights movie where baseball happens to be the industry integrated, but one where the audience feels like they're being brought onto the field, noticing the details of how the bases look, what the radio play-by-play sounds like... How the game differed from today, and how in part that was because it was an all-white game that was undeniably improved by Robinson bringing the Negro Leagues' style of play with him. It feels like watching baseball, not a sermon, even while it's showing how integrating the game made it better for everyone.

Fast & Furious 6

* * * (out of four)
Seen 25 May 2013 in AMC Boston Common #16 (first-run, DCP)

Of all the strange things to happen in the movies this century, the Fast & Furious series has to be right up there. The third, Tokyo Drift looks like the sort of "in-name-only" extension of a series that would be released direct-to-video back before VOD rearranged the whole paradigm, but somehow it kept the series alive long enough to bring the original cast back and somehow have writer Chris Morgan and director Justin Lin build it into a series that produces fun individual installments that tie together as well as anything with this sort of ongoing continuity.

Not that Morgan is writing particularly great scripts - this is a pretty dumb movie that doesn't make a lot of sense, but it knows how to use all of its characters. Well, except the evil versions of the crew whom DSS Agent Hobbs has brought them in to catch, but all the ones that matter. It's a group that is just fun enough to tie action scenes together, and while some of the plot bits don't make a whole lot of sense, they get the film from car chase to car chase, and the bit during the end credits which ties the series together is kind of a brilliant bit of retconning.

Plus, yeah, the car chases are pretty great. Not all of them - after a fun opener, the more conventional action is good but not fantastic (full disclosure: I arrived fairly late and thus wound up in the front row, which isn't the greatest vantage point for this sort of movie). The big ones featured in the previews, though, are pretty much everything I wanted them to be - the tank chase is just gloriously over the top, makes the characters improvise, and just as I'm starting to have "man, this is asking me to be okay with a lot of people being crushed to death" thoughts, the movie uses that, showing that Michelle Rodriguez's Letty belongs with the good guys. And then the plane chase... Good lord, that's awesome. It's got so many moving parts that a lesser filmmaker might produce a confusing mess, but Lin jumps between the different elements with great dexterity, and has both great action beats and emotional ones as well.

Oh, and Rodriguez and Gina Carano throw down twice, once being intercut to Joe Taslim beating the crap out of Tyrese Gibson and Sung Kang, and those fights are kind of awesome, too.

42What Maisie KnewThorough Butt-KickingFrom Morn to MidnightGreat ComebackFast & Furious 6EpicThe Painting

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