Yes, I'm skipping a couple weeks to start this bit of catch-up; it's a
This does, however, however, give me a chance to test out this tweet from the start of this week:
Theory I'm testing: If I watch DEAD RINGERS now, my memory will say I didn't fall asleep during last night's midnight screening.— Jason Seaver (@JaySeaver) February 22, 2015
Verdict: Well, I do sort of remember falling asleep, but Dead Ringers doesn't exist in my head piecemeal, so I guess it merged the way I wanted it to. Pretty darn great movie, too.
Monday's movie was Kingsman: The Secret Service, and I didn't really like it at the time, although you can't discount the things that it does really well; some of the chaotic action scenes are amazing. I've since read interesting arguments that I really misread the thing I most disliked about it - that it wants to be about class but doesn't follow through. Maybe I'll revisit it someday, but it has a bit of a charisma void anyway.
I believe A La Mala on Thursday was one of those ever-more-common night-before previews that used to be reserved for big releases, which only describes this Mexican romantic comedy in limited circles. It's pretty charming.
Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal, Friday night's movie, had some charm of its own, although it's not quite as cool as I would have liked. Still, more Chinese action in 3D is something I'd really like to see.
Then, Saturday, I went for an odd double feature, starting with Paddington, which is adorable and which I eventually wound up getting for the niece who had received a Paddington bear for the Christmas after I went to London a copy. After that, it was onto the T and down to the Coolidge for Maps to the Stars, which wasn't on my list of favorite Cronenbergs; for a guy who had done such awesomely weird stuff, this is pretty bland Hollywood satire.
Whew. One week down, seven months to go.
* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 21/22 February 2015 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (@fter Midnite, 35mm)
Seen 22 February 2015 in Jay's (old) Living Room (fell asleep, Amazon VOD)
David Cronenberg at midnight can be pretty rough; he's strange and provocative but also at times very austere. Dead Ringers can take that to an extreme, especially as Cronenberg tends to spend a lot of time creeping the audience out conceptually while pushing the visible grotesquerie back just enough to keep it potential throughout the movie. It's a rather refined deviancy in many ways, with every somewhat twisted character coming off as a bit aloof, but just never in a familiar way.
As much as the idea is Cronenberg, the execution is in large part Jeremy Irons, who is quite brilliant as the twin gynecologists, always able to converge or diverge their characters as need be so that a scene is often charged with ambiguity and mystery but never completely beholden to it. It's an impressive job of playing both sides of a conversation at times, while also making scenes with Geneviève Bujold excite no matter which character he's playing, with many different sorts of energy.
Crying shame that there doesn't seem to be a North American BD release; it's one of Cronenberg's greatest - and important, being where his films started to shift from the fantastic to the purely psychological.
* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 28 February 2015 in Somerville Theatre #2 (first-run, DCP)
I could have sworn that Paddington was originally advertised as having a November/December release in the US like it got in the UK and many other parts of the world, and I'm not sure why the Weinstein Company pushed it back, as there wasn't that much in the way of kid-friendly movies last year to serve as competition, though I suppose either Big Hero 6 or Penguins of Madagascar could have wound up a juggernaut.
Hopefully that just wound up clearing an easier path for kids to see it, though, because it's delightful. Screenwriter/director Paul King does something kind of clever in setting the film in present-day London but compacting the history of the UK in a way that lets colonialism and World War II are still roughly a generation back, and it makes the explanation for why the taxidermist villain (Nicole Kidman) cares about capturing a talking bear brilliant, even if it means parents and kids may need to have some awkward conversations about how that cool stuff in the Natural History Museum comes from practices we really wouldn't want to encourage in the present.
That same sense of timelessness is what makes the film so much fun, though - it lets King create a slightly off-center world where broad slapstick and sly humor can both arise from a seemingly ordinary introduction, and while the animated Peruvian bear of the title is clearly the star of the show, the human cast is delightful, especially Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as the heads of the family that takes him in. Bonneville is the epitome of English stuffiness, but with with and charm, and it's good to see kids introduced to Hawkins, who is always going to be Poppy from Happy-Go-Lucky for some of us and channels that uniquely positive energy into love and comedy in ways that few actors can.
Maybe this movie was too English to really do well in America, although that I could catch a matinee a month after it opened was a pretty good sign. I hope my niece likes the Blu-ray she got for her birthday.