Saturday, February 15, 2014

This Week In Tickets: 3 February 2014 - 9 February 2014

Running less late that last week! What can I say, there's a festival and snow. You'd think the latter would help me get writing done, but that's not actually the case. I need my time on the bus.

This Week in Tickets

Stubless: The Pretty One at the Regent Theatre, Monday, 7:30pm. Someone different was working the box office, and he actually took the ticket I printed out from Gathr's website rather than recognizing me and handing me a traditional ticket. It was backward and weird! Pretty decent movie, though.

After that, the only movie-seeing that I really had time for during the week was a double-feature of Oscar-nominated Documentary Shorts at the Coolidge. They've been swapped out for the live-action and animated ones, but they're worth seeing even if you're not going to watch the ceremony - these sorts of awards aren't perfect, but they don't exactly do a bad job of highlighting some of the best entries in a given year.

There were some short programs during the first three days of the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, and I'll probably catch up with them later. The features were generally decent-to-good; for every totally amateur thing like opener The Nigerian Frequency, there was something nifty like LFO. Also playing during those days: Dust of War, Animosity, SOS: Save Our Skins, and Inverse.

I missed the first part of the first short on Saturday because apparently just seeing movies straight from 3pm to 11pm isn't enough for me, and I had to make an matinee detour to Showcase Cinemas in Revere to see The Attorney. Honestly, I felt obligated; I grouse enough about that this sort of Asian movie not playing the Boston area enough that when one does show up, I really have to support it with dollars, even if it means a three-leg journey on various MBTA services. It is, admittedly, a little further than I might have gone for a similar movie not starring Song Kang-ho, but it's an enjoyable legal drama.

I also found another hole in the festival schedule to head two stops down the Red Line and see Drinking Buddies at the Brattle. It was a tight squeeze getting back to Somerville in time for Inverse, but worthwhile. Kind of an odd coincidence to open and (almost) close the week with two movies where Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston both play potential boyfriends to the same character, for a somewhat broad definition of potential boyfriend.

Next week's edition of this is probably going to be really short, because I've been living at the Somerville theater for this festival all week. But, then, I've actually got to write stuff up to get to that point.

Drinking Buddies

* * * (out of four)
Seen 9 February 2014 in the Brattle Theatre ([Some of] The Best of 2013, DCP)

I wouldn't say I've necessarily become a fan of Joe Swanberg's from seeing his last couple of films; I've got no particular desire to do any sort of deep dive through the seemingly dozens of micro-budget features he has done over the last few years to watch him hone the technique that got him to Drinking Buddies. He's definitely worth keeping an eye on for the future, though, especially when he's got a cast as solid as the one here.

The main group - Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston - are pretty strong, especially Wilde and Johnson. They're playing best friends and co-workers that one would expect to be pairing up in almost any other movie, and the point of this one is guessing whether or not it's inevitable. It's a fun thing to play with - watching them interact with each other, you do find yourself looking at them that way and knowing that they're feeling the attraction, even though there is this whole other group of relationships that would be upset. It actually makes the idea of calling it "attraction" a lot more reasonable than it often is, potentially pulling them off course.

There's not a lot of story here, in part because there's not a lot of drama. Swanberg mentioned during his Q&As at Fantasia last summer that he doesn't write much dialogue, especially for his actresses, because how is he going to know what a woman would really say. It actually holds up much better than most improvised movies, which probably meant that he did a pretty good job of keeping everyone on point. That helps a lot; it means Drinking Buddies seems to come to an honest resolution rather than just stopping after taking some sharp turn, which is a big part of why it's worth recommending.

(Wait - why is Jake Johnson clean-shaven on that DVD/Blu-ray cover?)

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts BOscar Nominated Documentary Shorts ASci-Fi Film FestivalThe AttorneyDrinking Buddies

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