Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Twenty and The King and the Mockingbird

Saturday afternoons films were an odd pairing and kind of unusual releases individually, but that's how I roll. Of course, since I'm excited for the return of baseball, I also caught the early shows for both, which meant not much of a crowd. Disappointing, as I kind of would have liked to see some reactions other than my own.

Heck, I may have been the only person in the 10:30pm show off Twenty - I left the house at 9am to take two buses to Revere to see a Korean movie and was amused that two of the other people who got on at Central Square looked to be two Korean-American students. It would have been funny if the room was populated by folks who came out from Cambridge to see the movie - I've had that happen before - but they got off at Inman Square. It may have just been me, although my usual seats were listed as taken when I was presented with the seat-selector screen when buying tickets (apparently putting in reclining seats means you have to have reserved seating).

Props to Showcase (whom I don't recall being nearly so focused on high-end experiences when I worked at their Worcester locations in college) for replying to my tweet with good humor, though:

I jest a bit, but you really would think that a chain I mostly visit because they're the only place around here that regularly books Korean films might want to give me a heads-up about one playing there, considering they do have some record of what I I've seen based upon using a loyalty card. Why, it's almost as if the emails these chains sent out are not "recommendations for you" at all!

All kidding aside, while I get that a ermine about the high-profile thing can be more valuable than trying to push the less-prominent one, it's too bad more places don't try the latter anyway. It strikes me as weird and counter-productive to build twenty-screen megaplexes and than put all your eggs in one basket as so often seems to be the case these days. Wouldn't spreading the wealth out to more movies me better for the company's and industry's health?

(Getting back to the kidding, I'm tempted to start tracking which movies Regal, AMC, and Showcase "recommend" to me personally every week to see if any of them actually has some sort of algorithm that considers the viewing history of their programs' members.)

All that talk of going to see Twenty doesn't even mention the carnival set up in the theater's parking lot, pushing the usual weekend flea market to the side. That it was the first day of local schools' April vacations didn't occur to me until days later; I just thought it was random. Vacation time probably also explains the Somerville Theatre booking The King and the Mockingbird for matinees this week as well; it's something parents can bring their kids to as well as something that can be displaced by IFFBoston without a whole lot of issues. Now I'm kind of curious if it got more kids during the week than when I came on Saturday and I think just had a college-aged couple joining me.

Seumool (Twenty)

* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 18 April 2015 in Showcase Cinemas Revere #17 (first-run, DCP)

I suspect that Twenty being successful enough in South Korea to merit a quick try-to-beat-the-pirates release in the United States owes as much to the popularity of its good-looking young cast as anything else; it's not a particularly exceptional coming-of-age comedy. It's three smaller ones that aren't bad, and while the whole thing isn't what it could be, it's got a few bits worth seeing.

Twenty is the age of its main characters, who bonded in high school over a common crush on So-min (Jung So-min); she wound up dating Cha Chi-ho (Kim Woo-bin), the son of a successful restaurateur spending much of his time post-graduation in clubs and on one-night stands, at least until his car hits aspiring actress Heo Eun-hye (Jung Joo-yeon) and she blackmails him into posing as her manager on set. Honor student Kim Gyeung-jae (Kang Ha-neul) starts college and immediately becomes the subject of a drunken Facebook video, although that's how he meets the beautiful fast-driving star of the investment club, Jin-ju (Min Hyo-rin). Dong-woo (Lee Joon-ho), on the other hand, is still working multiple jobs and repeating his last year of school in hopes of scoring better on his college entry exams, and that has him seated next to Gyeung-jae's sarcastic little sister So-hee (Lee Yoo-bi) in most of his classes.

It's not a bad thing, per se, that all the of the movie's main characters are guys, but it seems kind of telling that one of the first scenes that has them interact with girls involves them fighting over who got to touch So-min's breasts without her seeming to have an opinion on the matter. Without saying too much, it would be nice if the women in these boys' lives, whether potential girlfriends or mothers, were a bit more substantive; even the ones who seem to have concerns besides how they relate to the guys tend to fall short of initial expectations. Sure, part of the point of this movie is that is being told from the point of view of young men with some maturation to come, but it would have been nice if that included more adult relationships.

Full review on EFC.

Le roi et l'oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird)

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 18 April 2015 in Somerville Theatre #2 (reissue, DCP)

Everything about Paul Grimault's animated feature The King and the Mockingbird is peculiar, from its extended gestation (it was started in 1948 and finally released in 1980) to its unusual self-referentiality to a finale full of bizarre French humor and things one does not expect in a movie based upon a Hans Christian Andersen story. It is a weirdly delightful film playing a few dates after having been recently restored, one animation fans should check out should they get the chance.

The mockingbird is the one telling the story, adding that it all happened when Charles V + III = VIII + VIII = XVI was king. He was a lousy one, caring for little other than hunting, which had already claimed Mr. Bird's wife and nearly took his son before he showed up and told the king and his court off. He also has a passion for having portraits and Strauss made, usually in his image, but one night the pictures in his secret apartment of a lovely shepherdess and the chimney-sweep she loves come to life. Apparently the king never got over her, and the ardor of his picture is even more intense.

When I say that this movie was started in 1948, that's not strictly accurate; Grimault and co-writer Jacques Prévert began an adaptation of Andersen's "The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep" then, with an incomplete version released in 1952, the rights regained in 1967, so that this final film credits the songs and some other material as coming from the earlier production. I hope that whatever home video release follows the theatrical run includes it for comparison, because if it was anything close to a traditional adaptation of a fairy tale, it would appear that Grimault & Prévert had a bunch of new ideas during the twenty or so year hiatus. This thing is nuts.

Full review on EFC.

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