Thursday, August 21, 2014

This Week Month In Tickets: 14 July 2014 - 10 August 2014

Before getting to the big scans and long rambling description of what I did in Montreal this summer, big thanks to everybody I saw up there: The great folks who run the Fantasia International Film Festival, the diminished but still friendly front row crowd, regular seatmates Paul Kazee and Gabriela McLeod... Heck, even the folks at the U.S. Consulate whom I'd kind of rather not have to deal with again!

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

Stubless: Ju-on: Black Ghost & Ju-on: White Ghost, on BluRay in the living room, 15 & 16 July; Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder, screener DVD on the laptop, 31 July; Steel Cold Winter, screener DVD on the laptop, 1 August; Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, 7 August, Hall; I Am a Knife With Legs, 7 August, de Seve.

And, while we're here, a list of movies seen by day and the pages with the reviews:

17 July (Fantasia Day 01): Jacky and the Kingdom of Women and The Mole Song - Undercover Agent Renji
18 July (Fantasia Day 02): Kite, Live, and Zombeavers
19 July (Fantasia Day 03): The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow, Cold Eyes, Late Phases, Han Gong-ju, Suburban Gothic, and Zombie TV
20 July (Fantasia Day 04): Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, Red Family, In the Land of the Head Hunters, The Reconstruction of William Zero, and The Suspect
21 July (Fantasia Day 05): Thou Wast Mild and Lovely/Butter on the Latch and Hwayi: A Monster Boy
22 July (Fantasia Day 06): White Bird in a Blizard, Cheatin', In Order of Disappearance, and No Tears for the Dead
23 July (Fantasia Day 07): The Fatal Encounter, The Huntresses, and Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
24 July (Fantasia Day 08): Faults and Predestination
25 July (Fantasia Day 09): Mr. Go, Yasmine, and Goal of the Dead
26 July (Fantasia Day 10): The Zero Theorem, Uzumasa Limelight, Heavenly Sword, Puzzle, Let Us Prey, andDead Snow 2: Read vs. Dead
27 July (Fantasia Day 11): Hal, Giovanni's Island, The White Storm, The Midnight Swim, The Man in the Orange Jacket, and The Seventh Code
28 July (Fantasia Day 12): The Creeping Garden, Hana-Dama: The Origins, Guardian, and Creep
29 July (Fantasia Day 13): To Be Takei, At the Devil's Door, The Search for Weng Weng, and The Snow White Murder Case
30 July (Fantasia Day 14): The One I Love, Slipstreams and Eclectic Sheep, Ju-on: The Beginning of the End, and Four Corners
31 July (Fantasia Day 15): The Creep Behind the Camera, The Fake, When Animals Dream, and Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder
1 August (Fantasia Day 16): Steel Cold Winter, Kabisera, Miss Granny, Bros Before Hos, and WolfCop
2 August (Fantasia Day 17): Hunter X Hunter: Phantom Rouge, From Vegas to Macau, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Black Butler, Time Lapse, and Naked Ambition
3 August (Fantasia Day 18): Hunter X Hunter: The Last Mission, Real, Fuku-chan of Fuku-Fuku Flats, Ejecta, and Housebound
4 August (Fantasia Day 19): Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, Thermae Romae II, and Closer to God
5 August (Fantasia Day 20): The Desert, Monsterz, Metalhead, and Welcome to New York
6 August (Fantasia Day 21): Preservation, The Outer Limits of Animation, and Killers
7 August (Fantasia Day 22): Guardians of the Galaxy, Ruroni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, and I Am a Knife With Legs
10 August (Chaplin Shorts): "A Dog's Life", "A Day's Pleasure", "Sunnyside", and "Shoulder Arms"

Didn't get much done in the days ahead of the festival, but did watch the two Ju-on mini-features in case they were referenced in the new one at the festival (they weren't). For once, got to the bus station in plenty of time, even though I think the bus was actually earlier than in previous years. Got to Montreal, took a bit of a roundabout route to get to the apartment I'd rented but it was easy enough to get things set up, get the press pass, and be ready for the first show. Then it was basically "watch movies, sleep, write, repeat" for close to a solid week, before I had much time to do some touristy stuff.

I think it was in here that dumb thing #1 happened, with my tablet dropping out of my pocket and dropping a foot and a half to the floor of de Seve. When I picked it up, there was a hairline crack on the screen, and though I've seen phones and tablets work with much less, mine wasn't accepting input. It was showing a picture, connecting to a laptop and transferring data, but no touch screen input. Fortunately, there was one of those phone/tablet repair places right near the Concordia campus, though they would wind up charging me two-thirds of what I paid for my refurbished Nexus 7 last year.

Dumb thing #2 might have happened sometime while I was poking around the Vieux-Port on Thursday and Friday (the 24th & 25th). Likelly not the first day, when I was in familiar territory at Pointe-a-Calliere (nifty Marco Polo exhibit, and kids should love the new pirate ship), but on Friday, I went to the King Tut exhibit only to have my (beat to crap) debit card not work, then not work at on unaffiliated ATM. I eventually had to go practically back to Place des Armes to find a bank with their own ATMs, which was weird. I also went to one of the touristy spots and had a poutine with smoked meat. Anyway, lots of pulling stuff in and out of my pockets frustrated, so this could be where my passport went missing.

I recommend the Tutankhamon exhibition, though. It's old, cool, and authentic, and the warehouse space they've put it in gives the audience room to poke around without the place having the stuffiness of a formal museum. You can almost touch, but, well, don't.

The next week was quiet,in part because that's the one where I worked for the day job in the morning. There's stuff that needs to get done and there's no point in using all your vacation up in one go. In addition to the movies highlighted on the page, I also saw two on screeners: Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder and Steel Cold Winter. The screener policy was pretty strict this year - you could only check DVDs out for 48 hours and they weren't hosting their own online. That's OK - if either of these two play Fantastic Fest or someplace local, I'll check them out again so that I can see them properly.

With the last week, I took advantage of a thing Fantasia veterans know: The festival always runs an extra day or two after the initially announced end date, both in a bump from 20 days to 21 on the official schedule and an extra day of encores. I added a couple of trips to the consulate in there - this is about when I had the "hey, I haven't seen my passport in a few days" revelation, so I went Wednesday afternoon, only to be told to come back Thursday at 8:15am. That started a long final day of the festival - consulate, then breakfast, then the Lascaux exhibit at the science museum, the Napoleon exhibit at Notre Dame de Montreal, checking out the Redpath museum at McGill, and then, finally, because there was still a few hours until the festival screenings I hadn't seen, popping into Guardians of the Galaxy to escape rain. No wonder I was severely dragging by the time I Am a Knife with Legs was done.

With a couple days left in Montreal, I spent Friday being lazy - sleeping in, eventually checking out the Canadian Center for Architecture, which had need displays on using digital tools and a movement to recreate a very large haystack in Paris.

Saturday was check-out day, and I did dumb thing #3. I had found something online about a Lachine Canal Museum that, on Saturdays, had a different sort of tour, with visitors not just in a boat but rowing in the historic canals (now only used for small craft). Anyway - even if you think you've got a good idea of how to get somewhere when away from home, get a map, or at least something that lets you easily look stuff up online. I wound up walking the wrong direction from the subway station, getting back on, underestimating the distance to walk, not finding the place I was looking for but stumbling on a different Lachine museum with modern art, a sculpture garden, and a historic trading post. After looking around those places, I eventually stumbled on the one I was looking for originally, well after it closed. So, for next year: Green line to Angrinon, 110 bus, off at the corner with both museums. Give yourself an hour and a half.

Then came the time-killing until the 11:30pm bus, the ride back to Boston where I didn't get a whole lot of sleep, and jumping right back into seeing movies with a group of Chaplin shorts at the Somerville.

(Note to folks attending silent movies: Just because there's no dialog on-screen doesn't mean you need to talk. And, man, the kids behind me were active, to be kind!)

"A Dog's Life"

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 August 2014 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Silents Please!, 35mm)

I was still kind of getting my bearings on this one, but I think it is in many ways the quintessential Tramp short, with Chaplin literally playing a tramp trying to scrape up any food he can, down and out but not bowed. Plus, it's got an enormously cute dog. I do kind of wonder whether the "sad girl singing at dance club" bit is something that might have worked better with sound or if being silent means the audience is free to imagine.

Original review from 2012 (not that much longer!)

"A Day's Pleasure"

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 10 August 2014 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Silents Please!, 35mm)

As mentioned last time I saw this, Chaplin outside of Tramp mode, at least during the silents, can both be a little disconcerting and a case of a guy not playing to his strengths. "A Day's Pleasure" is gags. Funny gags, to be sure, but also kind of mean-spirited and knockabout, which isn't quite how he works best.

Original review from 2011


* * * (out of four)
Seen 10 August 2014 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Silents Please!, 35mm)

"Sunnyside" is where you can most clearly see Charlie Chaplin transitioning, somewhat uneasily, from the gag-based short filmmaker that was the norm in the teens to the story-oriented writer and director of features he would become in the 1920s. It's kind of a mess at times, but when it's on, it's on.

It gets to be on a lot, as Chaplin continually finds new things for his farm handyman character to do. There are bits about not wanting to get out of bed, working on the farm, running the inn/general store that his employer also seems to own, and wooing Edna Purviance's local beauty, even though a guy from the city is getting in the way. Chaplin throws just about everything he can think of in, including a fantasy sequence. They're funny jokes, though kind of disconnected.

And Chaplin is the guy to deliver them, which helps immensely. He played this sort of pathos-laden (but capable of mischief) character wonderfully while doing precision physical comedy. He's the face of the silent era for a reason, and even if the story here is all over the place, his execution is great.

"Shoulder Arms"

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 August 2014 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Silents Please!, 35mm)

This is the biggest, most-feature-like film Chaplin made before actually starting to do features, and it's kind of fascinating to see. Lots of silents, whether shorts or features, often feel like separate shorts that can be broken down into their component reels and shown separately, and this one has that sort of multi-stage feeling, but it also has an unusually natural progression from one to the other.

And those bits are pretty good wartime comedy. Chaplin comes up with a bunch of funny scenarios that don't necessarily have a lot to do with actually shooting other people, actually thinning a tough line admirably: He depicts trench warfare as kind of miserable and dangerous while still giving the audience plenty of funny slapstick. He builds it up to quite the adventure and romance in the meantime.

It's quite the funny little adventure comedy, maybe a little stretched as it played (there were some weird off-speed moments, although I would think that playing it 24fps would make a movie listed on IMDB as 17fps shorter rather than longer), but an enjoyably silly silent war comedy.

Jacky in the Kingdom of Women & The Mole SongKite, Live & ZombeaversSatellite Girl, Cold Eyes, Late Phases, Han Gong-ju, Suburban Gothic, Zombie TVBayonetta, Red Family, Head Hunters, William Zero & The Suspect
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely & Hwayi: A Monster BoyWhite Bird in a Blizzard, Cheatin', In Order of Disappearance & No Tears for the DeadThe Fatal Encounter, The Huntresses & Kumiko the Treasure HunterFaults & PredestinationMr. Go, Yasmine & Goal of the DeadThe Zero Theorem, Uzumasa Limelight, Heavenly Sword, Puzzle, Let Us Prey & Dead Snow 2Hal, Giovanni's Island, The White Storm, The Midnight Swim, The Man in the Orange Jacket & The Seventh CodePointe-à-CallièreKing Tut
The Creeping Garden, Hana-Dama, Guardian, CreepTo Be Takei, At the Devil's Door, Weng Weng & The Snow White Murder CaseThe One I Love, Slipstreams and Eclectic Sheep, Ju-on, Four CornersThe Creep Behind the Camera, The Fake & When Animals DreamKabisera, Miss Granny, Bros Before Hos & WolfCopHunter X Hunter 1, From Vegas to Macau, Hundred Year Old Man, Black Butler, Time Lapse & Naked AmbitionHunter X Hunter 2, Real, Fuku-chan, Ejecta & Housebound
Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, Thermae Romae II & Closer to GodThe Desert, Monsterz, Metalhead & Welcome to New YorkPreservation, Outer Limits of Animation, KillersGuardians of the GalaxyLascaux ExhibitionTreasures of NapoleonCanadian Center for ArchitectureChaplin Shorts

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