Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Maisie Knew

Although an email from the folks running it claims that this screening at the Regent Theatre in Arlington was the fifth screening in its series, I believe it was the first in the Boston area. The word doesn't seem to have spread on it yet, as there were only about seven of us there.

Well, it was only a chance to see it three days early, but I will say that the Gathr Preview Series does seem to be a pretty good deal - they run four movies a month at $19/month (or $49 for three months), and while the five movies currently listed as coming through the end of June look to be a mixed bag, quality-wise, $4.08 to $4.75 for early screenings early in the week is a pretty decent deal, though they're $10 for non-members.

That's the sales pitch; the other side is that you're talking about Gathr screenings at the Regent. I'm pretty sure that the Regent is a pretty nice place to go for a live show; it's a comfy, 400-500 seat venue in a nice neighborhood with various restaurants, but the projection for this movie looked to be from a Blu-ray, and even though the screen is at the back of a stage, there was still masking on all four sides, not completely giving you the full big-screen experience. After twenty or thirty minutes, I got used to it, but presentation-wise, it's not exactly on a par with how folks who see it in DCP at Landmark will experience it.

On the other side, it's Gathr, and as much as the idea of services like Gathr and Tugg seem full of potential, they don't do a whole lot to promote screenings - this one wasn't even listed on the Regent's website (although next week's entry is). I suspect that they're hoping this series will increase by word of mouth, which will then build a sort of community which will book other screenings, but it looks like a pretty hard thing to bootstrap, truth be told.

Ah, well. I'll be back in Arlington for 100 Bloody Acres on Tuesday; we'll see how many other folks show up and what kind of trend we're looking at.

What Maisie Knew

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 21 May 2013 in the Regent Theatre (Gathr Preview Series, digital)

This modern-day adaptation of Henry James's What Maisie Knew appears to have been somewhat freely adapted from the novel, although not necessarily in the ways one might expect. Divorces and custody battles may have become more common since the book's publication in 1897, but the underlying issues remain all too similar. Capturing perspective in a film means doing things a bit differently, but it's something that this adaptation does very well.

Maisie (Onata Aprile) is six or seven years old, lives in New York City, and has a pretty sweet disposition despite the way her parents fight all the time. It's not long before Susanna (Julianne Moore), a rock star on the downward slope of her career, and Beale (Steve Coogan), an English art dealer whose work frequently takes him out of town, finally split for good. The court awards them joint custody, with each scheduled to have Maisie for ten days at a time. Maisie is somewhat surprised to see her nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) when she first arrives at her father's new apartment, which prompts Susanna to respond with her own marriage of convenience, in her case to young bartender Lincoln (Alesander Skarsgård), lest the court find Beale is providing a more stable environment.

Divorce is a rough road for most kids, but it's interesting to see how directors Scott McGehee & David Siegel and screenwriters Nancy Doyne & Caroll Cartwright emphasize certain parts of it. They show Maisie waiting to be picked up a lot, and when she is collected or dropped off, it's almost always by someone in a taxi. Part of this, naturally, is about this specific group of characters living in a city where having your own car is crazy and showing that their daughter is not nearly the first concern that she should be, but it also seems very much to be about showing what an in-between, rootless status Maisie is being stuck into. This divorce is terrible, certainly, but it's something that speaks to almost all splits where children are involved.

Full review on eFilmCritic.

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