Monday, January 19, 2015

This That Week In Tickets: 4 January 2015 - 10 January 2015

See, this new calendar format is good, spreading the weekend crushes out visually.

This Week in Tickets

Confession: Noticing that Big Eyes was playing in an even-numbered screen at the Somerville played some small factor in my seeing it at Assembly Row. A shame, because that turned out to be the only one of the big Christmas openings I was really interested in, as demonstrated by the blank space below that ticket.

Not that I really meant it to be blank; it was just that the two times I could easily make it to see Whiplash during the work week, but there were no evening showings those days. Not particularly drawn to Unbroken or Into the Woods, it was thus a pretty quiet week until Saturday, when I caught Selma at the Capitol. Funny MoviePass quirk - they apparently have a database of how much a movie is supposed to cost at each theater, which means that the Capitol raising their prices a buck to an even ten dollars makes the card freak out and not work, even though it happily works for $12.79 tickets elsewhere.

Such as Taken 3 the next evening. Idle MoviePass ethical question: Is it okay to ignore the 24-hour rule when they've refunded you the price of a ticket? See, just 22 hours between these two. The app can't enforce it, so you're kind of on the honor system. Anyway, even though it's not a lot of guilt, it does make one feel just a tiny bit worse about contributing to that movie's box office take.

Still, I gave it a good thrashing in the review and then was still ready for the midnight screening of The Satanic Rites of Dracula at the Coolidge. Fun, but maybe one's first Hammer Dracula (or at least, the first one stays awake through) should not be the last in the series.

Big Eyes

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 4 January 2015 in AMC Assembly Row #10 (first-run, DCP)

There's a sort of sub-theme in Big Eyes about Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) improving her craft, getting away from her signature style, and coming into conflict with her husband as a result. It's an interesting thing to show up in a Tim Burton movie, isn't it?

I kid, somewhat, but at points that's the most interesting part of the movie. The story around it, about Margaret being the one to actually paint the works in question while her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took the credit and built a lucrative business around them, has much to recommend it, but tends to drift toward "what a weird series of events" even when it's clear that what's going on underneath is what inspired Burton and writers Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski.

When it's taking about art, and the difference between wanting to be an artist because that's how you imagine yourself and needing to get the images in ones head out - and evolving because you have new things to say and new ways to say it, the film is fairly interesting. It too often sidesteps the question of whether Margaret's art is actually "good", willing to portray her as a talent thwarted for being a woman, with any criticism of her work blunted for being aimed at the empty suit that is Walter, which is a missed opportunity to talk about how she doesn't need to be an invading genius to benefit from having some means of expression. It also seems like the film could have greatly benefited from more female perspective behind the camera, as well; the writers and director have done fine work in the past, but the film only addresses how being a woman - and a divorced one with a kid at that! - in this time and environment drives many of Margaret's decisions in a perfunctory manner.

Any Adams picks up a lot of slack there, though. She picks up on the desperation Margaret often feels which is generally unsaid, finds ways to balance it with the sarcasm and rebelliousness that comes with Margaret's growth as an artist, and generally show her becoming a more complete person. Waltz gives an often-entertaining performance as Walter, but it's a little too much so - it's all too evident to the audience what he is from the start, with little hint of what's going on with him. A bunch of other actors have similar issues, though with less screen time (Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Terrence Stamp).

I enjoyed Big Eyes enough, and don't think I'm dinging it too much for not being the movie I wanted it to be. After all, those hopes didn't pop up until after if started watching the movie, as opposed to being a mindset I came in with.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (aka Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 10 January 2015 in College Corner Theatre #1 (After Midnite, 35mm)

The Satanic Rites of Dracula is built around the idea that Dracula is, after seven prior movies in this series and hundreds of years of undeath, with the last hundred marked by repeated defeats, deaths, and resurrections, simply sick of it all and aims to bring the whole world down around him. It's as good a thing as any to hang a plot from in a series that, itself, is rather long in the tooth, although the funny thing is, this wouldn't be a bad place to start a series about a task force dealing with the intersection of black magic and dangerous science.

In fact, it's actually scarier than a lot of Hammer's action-horror hybrids because of the doomsday plague Dracula intends to unleash upon the world. Vampires are pretty old hat by this point in the series, with Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) mentioning yet another way to kill Dracula and barely giving a thought to his return. Things move along at an enjoyable enough pace, and there's a likable ensemble around Van Helsing (including Joanna Lumley as his granddaughter).

It's a fun vampire movie, with all the blood and sex you'd expect from it. It's just at the end of a cycle which was too played out to finish with a bang.

Big EyesSelmaTaken 3The Satanic Rites of Dracula

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