Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Since I had a ticket to last night's ballgame, I didn't get to the Gathr Preview Presents screening this week, although I do hope it shows up in theaters - I don't recall the last movie I saw from Colombia, and it looked interesting.

I hope someone did, though, because I was the only person to show up for Broken. I suppose it's quite possible that a decent chunk of its audience saw it elsewhere - it was the January offering for Film Movement, so it's quite possible that a non-trivial chunk of its potential audience already had DVDs or had booked it for private screenings at small venues (or even off-hours at larger ones). I think I spotted Film Movement's name on one of the upcoming selections, too, so it might be interesting to see if that torpedoes local attendance as a rule (although I will likely miss that film, with other plans and all).

Even with that, though, there's really no excuse for these previews to be as sparsely attended as they are (generally around eight or so of us, although Ray Mancini brought some more people out to The Good Son). The Regent Theatre may not be on a subway line, but it's not that far out, and it's a nice venue, even if they are projecting Blu-rays rather than DCP or film for most of these screenings. The movies have generally been pretty good - this, What Maisie Knew, and More than Honey make this as good a preview series as Talk Cinema or CineCache - and if you buy a subscription, the price is nearly unbeatable at $19 for four weeks or $49 for 12. They've even been advertising a little, with slides showing up at the Brattle.

It just goes to show, I think, how almost completely hidden services like Gathr and Tugg seem to be outside of certain areas. In the Boston area, Gathr seems to exist entirely for the purpose of booking Girl Rising, and the one time I tried to set up a show with them was a mess - for a weekday evening, I would have needed about a hundred people (to displace a screening of a couple dozen, max), and I wouldn't even be able to say which theater it was at before it was "tipped" - and how are you supposed to get people to sign up if they don't know where they'll be going? As a result, i suppose it's not at all surprising that these shows are so sparsely attended, though it is disappointing.

The movie itself wasn't, though; I liked it quite a bit, even if I really would have liked to see how an audience reacted. One thing that surprised me a bit in the end was seeing that what I thought was a too-cute indie pop song at the start was actually sung by the film's young lead actress Eloise Laurence. I wonder if, knowing that, I'll look at it differently should I see the movie again - as much as I kind of get annoyed at adults affecting little-girl voices, knowing it's an actual little girl singing might make it go down better. Or maybe I would have found it tacky in a different way.

It was also kind of neat to see Denis Lawson get either a "With" or "And" credit. When Ewan McGregor got the role of young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels, it was pointed out that he was the nephew of Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the original films, and that Lawson actually had a fine career back home in the UK on the stage and television, but it's not stuff that makes it across the Atlantic that often. In other nerdy stuff, co-star Rory Kinnear is supposedly on the short list for the next star of Doctor Who. Which, based on the character he plays here, would be different.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 June 2013 in the Regal Theatre (Gathr Previews Presents..., digital)

It's pretty clear what sort of climax Broken will have - main character Skunk has a Chekhov's Gun attached to her from nearly the moment she's introduced - but it's a testament to both how great Eloise Laurence is in the part and how well the filmmakers make everything else going on in her neighborhood that something else can form a rock in the viewers' stomachs, getting them to mutter that the movie had better not bloody dare...

Skunk, you see, had been a difficult birth, and is diabetic now; her father Archie (Tim Roth), a London solicitor, helps attend to her injections. But there's still plenty of time for her to run about in the summer before starting middle school, making an abandoned caravan into a fort with her older brother Jed (Bill Milner), having her first crush on a boy (Lino Facioli) - and witnessing when Mr. Oswald (Rory Kinnear) beats their other neighbor's mentally handicapped son Rick (Robert Emms) bloody for supposedly looking at his daughter the wrong way. Things will be a little awkward when school starts, too, as by then the family's housekeeper Kasia (Zana Marjanovic) has broken up with her new teacher Mike (Cillian Murphy).

These threads tie together, of course, and not just because Rick's father (Denis Lawson) wants to hire Archie to sue Bob Oswald. Director Rufus Norris and screenwriter Mark O'Rowe (working from Daniel Clay's novel) set the film's size appropriately; there's familiarity and connection among neighbors without this cul-de-sac becoming a hermetically-sealed environment. Things with as little import as a trouble-making set of twins who show up as a running joke can tie things together without implying that every connection must be important. That's important, because this coming-of-age movie is about learning to recognize complexity, even if one doesn't understand it.

Full review on EFC

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