Wednesday, October 07, 2015

This Week In Tickets: 27 September 2015 - 3 October 2015

You'd think my birthday week would just be packed with movies, but there's other stuff to do too.

This Week in Tickets

Starting with baseball, specifically the Red Sox' last home game of the year. It was a weird day; my mother and her husband Bill won tickets in the bleachers, while I was up in the right field roof boxes, so we met up beforehand, got some curtains hung, went our separate ways at the game then met up back again afterward.

The Red Sox won, shutting out the Orioles for the entire weekend before going on to a sweep of the Yankees. It was Don Orsillo's last time doing play-by-play for the team at home (at least until the Padres visit next year and he's there for his new job), and the team did a nice tribute.

Gonna miss baseball; the playoffs just aren't the same, and I'm not just saying that because the Red Sox won't be a part of them.

The next night, I headed for Assembly Row to catch Everest on its last night on the Imax screens, because what's the point otherwise? Boston Common wasn't an option, either, since it was doing a preview of The Walk. Good looking, but not really built to be a movie.

Spent the next few evenings birthday shopping for my niece, because we share a birthday. I kind of wound up mostly getting her stuff I liked that I hoped nine-year-old girls might also go for - the first two Bandette graphic novels, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, what seemed like the only novel in the "Middle Readers" section of Porter Square Books that looked futuristic and had a young girl as a protagonist (comics seem to have it way over novels there), and the game Scotland Yard. While in Games People Play, I was pretty sure that I had purchased a copy at the SmarterKids warehouse when I worked there, and, yeah, I did. Moved twice without getting much chance to play it here since then. At least getting her a new copy meant I knew nothing was missing and it now apparently has beginner and two-player versions.

On the actual day of my birthday, I went to the new week's new Chinese movie, Saving Mr. Wu, which was pretty good. Then I tried to catch The Martian at the Somerville Theatre, but the 3D screening sold out. Saturday, I headed to Maine - my nieces are the cutest nieces - and then tried to catch the same movie after getting back. Nope.

But, when we get to next week...

Everest

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 28 September 2015 in AMC Assembly Row #1 (first-run, Imax 3D)

Say this about about Everest - its "holy crap, look at that!" game is tremendously strong. Director Baltasar Kormákur and cinematographer Mick Audsley, probably along with a gaggle of FX guys, puts the audience right on the top of a mountain. I haven't seen enough pictures of Everest specifically to be able to tell just how well the crew has mimicked distinctive features, but it feels like an impressive recreation, The effects work blends seamlessly with the aerial photography, and large-format screen and 3D are used very well. I wish I'd been able to make it out to Reading to see it on the six-story screen there.

It's got a pretty nice ensemble, too - there are a lot of characters who may not have the strongest of arcs, but during the extended "getting to know you" phase, they make a good impression: Jason Clarke as the expedition leader, John Hawkes as the underdog postman, Josh Brolin as the Texan who may be a little too sure of himself, and then you dig into the supporting cast and find Keira Knightley, Emily Watson, Robin Wright, Jake Gyllenhaal... It's kind of ridiculous.

Why, then, does it become a little underwhelming? Perhaps because Kormákur and writers William Nicholson & Simon Beaufoy embrace the randomness of the true story more than most narrative films do: Terrible things happen on this expedition, and there is a very obvious lesson about not trying to commodify the extremes as these people have - not everybody can climb Everest, not even among the upper echelon of skilled and enthusiastic mountaineers, and trying to make a regular business out of it is hubris. It's a distributed one, tough, spread out among too many characters as disaster adds up, and when you combine that with the conditions it happens in, the last act has a lot of middle-aged white guys with mostly-covered faces. It's tough to connect to that emotionally, and once the camera is getting in tight enough to give you an expression that can later be seen in a living room, you lose a bit of the spectacle.


Red Sox win last home game
Everest
Saving Mr. Wu

1 comment:

Peter Millican said...

I applaud Working Title for breaking new ground and not sticking to the 'Into Thin Air' version of the 1996 Everest tragedy, which is maybe why this book is not in this film's Credits, something that has not gone unnoticed by some professional reviewers.

Working Title/the Director referred to Jon Krakauer as 'a writer who just happened to be on the mountain at the time'. To learn more about what actually caused this seminal event you will need to read 'A Day to Die For' and 'After the Wind'. Well done Working Title and Baltasar Kormakur for daring to break the mold!