Busy week, between baseball season starting, the Somerville Theatre filling screens with special presentations before the festival start, and just going to see regular movies:
First up was The Tales of Hoffman, a Technicolor opera from Powell & Pressburger, and while the digital presentation is not quite so eye-popping as having film to run, it's still a gorgeous thing to watch. Kind of a dull movie, though.
Monday was Opening Day at Fenway Park, which the Red Sox won against the Nationals, handily. It wasn't quite so close for Tuesday's game, but at least that one was exciting. The team was in first place after those games, and although it was pretty clear that a fair chunk of those victories were at least partially the result of other teams really not playing defense well at all, the drop that followed would be pretty severe.
In between, Kill Me Three Times, which must have been pretty close to the end of its run for me to choose a nine-thirty show, although hitting a barbecue place with some friends after the ballgame also contributed.
Thursday night was another end-of runner, Ned Rifle at the Brattle. It's the close of a trilogy that started nearly twenty years earlier with Henry Fool and continued with Fay Grim, although Hal Hartley's less-universal story probably keeps it from getting the attention of other long-running independent series like the ones which started with 7 Up and Before Sunrise.
Saturday, I got up early to head out to Revere because that's where the latest quick Korean import, Twenty, was running (kind of glad those are playing in the city now, despite the impressive concession stand out there). After that, the MBTA must have just gotten me back to Somerville for their brief run of The King and the Mockingbird, an outright peculiar animated film with a long, strange history to go with its odd story and visuals.
That meant I started and ended the week doing the same thing - afternoon repertory presentations in Davis Square. Symmetry!
* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 16 April 2015 in the Brattle Theatre (first-run/Henry Fool trilogy, DCP (?))
Hal Hartley has just never stuck with me; he's the sort of independent voice that seems to enjoy that designation a bit much at times, preferring to bask in the peculiarity of whatever he has thought up over doing a sensible thing where that could really hold the story together. Take, for instance, Simon Grim (James Urbaniak) deciding to do a comedy vlog despite having no aptitude for it; the mannered performance and hyper-seriousness that would make it very funny with just the tiniest bit of motivation raises skepticism instead. There's a fair chunk of that in Ned Rifle - Hartley's got interesting ideas, but kind of counts on being an auteur with a dedicated audience a bit much.
It's not really crippling, though, in part because the idea he did have - the son of the vain, urban likes of Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan) and Fay Grim (Parker Posey) winding up adopted by humble churchgoing people in the country - winds up making for a fascinating contrast. The foster family of Ned Rifle (Liam Aiken) are the kind of people that New York-based independent filmmakers don't necessarily always get even when they're not trying to appear superior, and going that direction with Ned rather than have him take after his parents makes him the first protagonist of the series that the audience can really feel for from the start.
Because of that, the weird stuff around him - most notably Aubrey Plaza as a traveling companion and intended partner in crime who is simultaneously much more worldly and even more thoroughly damaged than the young man looking to kill his father for the way he has left his and his family's life a mess. Posey, Urbaniak, and Ryan, all reprising roles they've played since 1997, are all just as comfortable as you'd expect, but never complacent in bringing these odd, borderline absurd characters to life.
I'm still never really going to love Hal Hartley, I don't think, but I'll probably keep trying; he's at least eccentric in an interesting way.