Monday, May 26, 2014

This That Week In Tickets: 31 March 2014 - 6 April 2014

After a binge like BUFF, it makes a bit of sense to take it easy the next week or so.

This Week in Tickets

Of course, there's still stuff that you've got to see now because it won't exactly hang around. Le Week-End didn't necessarily fit into that category - IIRC, it had a pretty good run - but I think Ernest & Celestine was just at Kendall for the one week, and if you wanted to see it with the original French soundtrack, that meant a 9:40 show. It made for a fairly natural double feature to pair the movie set in Paris with the French feature, so I did just that.

On Friday, I opted to forgo opening night of Captain America for Jinn on the basis of "indie genre film deserves to be supported with money", but that proved not always to be the case; it turned out to be a real mess, probably just in theaters because the filmmakers paid to four-wall it. Some neat ideas, but a real mess.

Saturday, though, was a good day to head to the SuperLux for Captain America: The Winter Soldier (not a bad deal for 3D movies), and it was certainly worth the trip, what with being a downright terrific superhero thriller. It was no trouble to make it back for A Thousand Clowns at the Somerville as part of their 100th anniversary celebration. It's a relatively obscure movie, but one projectionist Dave Kornfeld pushed for and a really neat discovery. One of the most enjoyable things about this series has been seeing Dave introduce these movies; it's very easy to think of him as the guy who grumbles about technical stuff or runs movies he dislikes down (which is a common trap for a lot of us; it's often easier to speak passionately in the negative), so watching him just be a fan is fun.

Either the lingering effects of the festival or work caught up to me after that, and I wound up turning in early and then not doing much on Sunday until late, when I had good fun at the latest leg of Arnold Schwarzeneggar's post-Governator career, Sabotage. Not quite his greatest work, but a pretty darn good piece of action filmmaking.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 5 April 2014 in Showcase SuperLux #4 (first-run, 4K RealD)

It's not necessarily a 100% guarantee, since a fair number of superhero movie have loaded themselves up with a nice cast and then been quite poor, but I found myself feeling pretty confident about the second Captain America movie when Robert Redford signed on for a supporting role. Lots of older actors will take any part they can get, and many respectable ones will sign onto a picture because they'd like to do something their kids or grandkids would be into, but I doubt Redford does a Marvel movie unless he digs the script.

If that's the case, he's right to; The Winter Soldier is as clever and topical as it's source material (and probably more obviously so for not being stretched out over months), and its directors handle a couple of things that could otherwise sink the thing very well: It pivots from a very contemporary conspiracy thriller to comic book sci-fi with incredible grace and picks up threads from other Marvel movies (along with the wider interconnected universe) without being overwhelmed or shoved aside by them in the way that Iron Man 2 and the first Thor tended to be. It probably doesn't hurt that they've got what seems like a much more significant budget than those movies, and they put it to goods use with some great, great action scenes.

So it's another success from Marvel Studios which has me excited generally and specifically for next year's second Avengers movie. That's a crazy roll they're on.

A Thousand Clowns

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 5 April 2014 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Centennial Celebration, 35mm)

Here's a funny story: I looked at the IMDB entry for this movie, saw the description of the film along with a picture of Barry Gordon as an adult next to a whole bunch of names, and figured he would be playing a whole bunch of relatives that the kid whom children's services is threatening to take away from Jason Robards' character Murray, Alec Guinness/Peter Sellers style. In actual fact, he's playing the kid himself; he was dropped off with Murray without a name and has yet to settle on one.

That actually makes for a much more interesting movie than the conventionally unconventional one in my head; it's a decision that reflects an eccentricity that teeters on the edge of genuine instability for Murray, and the conflict between the audience enjoying the funny things he does and still worry that he's not good for his nephew or Sandra (Barbara Harris), the child psychologist who quickly falls for him. It's an impressively nervy balancing act by Robards, director Fred Coe, and writer Herb Gardner (adapting his own play), especially as the circumstances that led up to the status quo are revealed through funny but natural dialogue.

It's a good-looking film, with beautiful black-and-white photography and set design that really brings the feel of a stage play to the screen - there's room for the characters to talk and advance the story that way without a whole lot of distractions, but things never seem particularly limited or bound. Murray's apartment looks like a set, but a good-looking one that says a ton about its inhabitants. The whole film works like that - eccentric but presented elegantly, and well-worth discovering for what it is.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 6 April 2014 in AMC Boston Common #6 (first-run, DCP)

In a way, Sabotage is almost impressive for how it seems to run counter to the conventional wisdom for action movies: It's got a story that potentially could get folks bogged down without being engrossing enough to sell the movie on its own and the type of unapologetic violence that absolutely destroys any chance at a PG-13. Having those things doesn't inherently make it a better movie than a simpler movie built to make it easier to sell, but it's fun to see them show up regardless.

I'm not necessarily sure writer/director David Ayer could make a movie any other way; his movies have all been testosterone-fueled and this is no exception, with even the two most prominent women in the movie, Mirelle Enos's addict member of the DEA strike team at the center and Olivia Williams's detective investigating the ones who are being knocked off, copping a lot of the same macho attitudes. It makes for a movie that is a bit of a genre melange, with the structure of a slasher movie and kills that come out of a bloody serial killer drama that push the movie to big action sequences. Ayer and company wreck stuff, and no matter on what scale they're doing it or how, there's nobody on-screen that is particularly bothered by it.

That does sort of get a bit limiting with the cast, there are a bunch of tattooed macho white guys that are fairly interchangeable (I can't even pretend to distinguish between Sam Worthington, Max Martini, Kevin Vance, and Josh Holloway) which makes it kind of odd how little one of the more recognizable pieces of the cast (Terrence Howard) is used initially. It is at least another memorable post-political performance by Schwarzeneggar - he's not owning his age quite so well as Clint Eastwood did, but old Arnold is a lot more fun than I suspect anyone expected, and the way he bounces off Olivia Williams is a ton of fun.

I do kind of think the movie goes on a few scenes too long - there's an epilogue that is a little gung-ho even after the movie has sunken into the murk. On the other hand, that's the sort of movie Ayer makes, and he's at least being true to that.

Le Week-EndErnest & CelestineJinnCaptain America: The Winter SoldierA Thousand ClownsSabotage

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