Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This Week In Tickets: 12 August 2013 - 18 August 2013

It's funny - I head out of town for the better part of a month, and I figure there will be a lot to catch up on when I get home, but that's not really the case. Stuff has come and gone, or is down to inconvenient-enough times that it might as well have, and mid-August isn't when the studios are opening the must-see attractions, anyway.

This Week in Tickets

Still, there's some good stuff: Europa Report is quite good and the rare bit of "hard" science fiction to make it to theaters, and I kind of wonder if it might hae hung around longer if it had opened in Boston a couple weeks later, when the MIT and Harvard students got back. Ah, well; it's on VOD and will be out on video in October.

Can't say quite so many good things about Savannah; it's got a nice cast but just doesn't know how to make its subject interesting. It's another Gathr screening where I was alone, though this one was not a Film Movement selection. It is available on some VOD platforms, though (Amazon, at least), and while something like Europa Report can get an audience despite that, Savannah couldn't.

Only got to one Hitchcock movie at the HFA this week, but that's okay; Rebecca is kind of terrific. I kicked around the idea of seeing more, but when I got back from my niece Maisy's party on Saturday, I was worn out - and waiting to hear back as to whether I'd left my phone in my brother's car, to be honest. I'd intended to catch The Lady Vanishes on Sunday night, but ESPN decided it wanted the Red Sox-Yankees game, so that was at 8pm. I did record the BBC/Masterpiece remake that coincidentally aired the same night, and I'm interested to see how that plays.

As to the game... Ugh. I must admit, I haven't exactly enjoyed when the Yankees visit Fenway for a few years now; for as much as these games can represent a big swing in the standings and how the Yankees tend to have players I legitimately despise, even if only for being pod people, it brings out the worst in the crowd - more drinking, swearing, and booing; seemingly less enjoying baseball. The current drama with Alex Rodriguez made it worse; I'm certainly no fan of Slappy, but rooting for someone to get hit makes you a bad person, and while the runs that scored because he was put on base instead of gotten out weren't the entire margin of victory for the opposition, they tied the game up and were infuriating.

As much as I hated giving up the run, I did kind of like him doing the Big Papi sky-point after annihilating a ball whose pieces quickly made the center field bleachers; the crowd needed and deserved showing up, especially the idiots near me who were acting like only the Yankees would employ such scum. I mean, remember how awesome the 2004 World Series was? Manny Ramirez was the MVP. Red Sox fans aren't unique in terms of being hypocrites here, but, really, this acting like athletes turning to pharmaceuticals to find an edge is the worst thing ever has got to stop.


* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 15 August 2013 in the Harvard Film Archive (The Complete Alfred Hitchcock, 35mm)

This will probably get a more complete review in a few weeks, when I'm finished with Fantasia reviews and can attack Hitchcock as a project, so I'll just leave the basics of how Rebecca is a great, great movie here.

It doesn't quite start and end with how fantastic Joan Fontaine is, but this is a lot of movie to rest on a relative newcomer's shoulders, and Fontaine handles it. What's most impressive, I think, is the way that the movie belittles her character - the man she loves is really quite patronizing - and it comes off as deserved without actually making the audience think less of her. Rebecca is structurally something of a gothic romance and uses many of the genre's trappings, but few manage the earnest, quiet growth of their ingenue quite so well as this one; the filmmakers and characters point out the tipping point, but they and Fontaine have been subtly moving her toward that moment throughout the film, and she has similar growth afterward.

Laurence Olivier is quite good, too; his bigger, more theatrical performance is rather precisely calibrated to overshadow Fontaine's character but not the actress herself, and he changes how he portrays Maxim just enough in the second half to reflect the character's new role (and the audience's new understanding) without invalidating everything the audience knew.

Plus, the story itself is rather a classic, especially considering how a lot of what Hitchcock and the four credited screenwriters/"adapters" take a structure that works very well in a novel - information and events relayed through exposition rather than action - and have it come out as a positive. The obvious and logical thing to do might have been to have flashbacks to Maxim's marriage to Rebecca, but having her completely off-screen is the right call, even if things do occasionally get rather wordy; her imagined perfection is used extremely effectively.

It's also worth noting that Hitchcock ends this movie the moment that there's nothing more to tell, not necessarily even closing certain narrative parentheses. Considering what an issue I had with him not doing so in Sabotage a few days earlier, the curtness was rather fantastic.

Europa ReportSavannahRebeccaRed Sox 6, Yankees 9

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