Another busy couple of weeks where everything seemed to demand a full review. Good news, though - I finally got my tablet back and so I can now work on such things without lugging my laptop on the bus or other places.
As I mentioned at the time, The Last Witch Hunter was kind of a backup plan; I was planning to make it to Revere to check out Ladrones, but between my watch running slow and the buses actually running on time, I seem to have just missed it. Assembly Row wasn't much of a detour for something that turns out not to really be actively bad but not really good, either.
I think it was pretty direct from there to the Brattle, where the Independent Film Festival Boston folks started their five day "Fall Focus", which, coming pretty much exactly six months after the last one, could be called IFFBoston 2015½. (I promise, folks who have been reading this blog and my social media over the past month, that this is the last time I will use that joke unless they do another in 2016.) I went four of the five days, seeing Where to Invade Next, Entertainment, The Assassin, and Anomalisa. Pretty strong schedule.
I skipped Monday because I'd already seen that day's movie and wanted to check out Black Mass before the Somerville Theatre lost their 35mm print. This may make me the last person in the greater Boston area to see it, and I can't say I really loved it, but I'm not really a big gangster or Johnny Depp fan most of the time.
Once the Fall Focus was over, it was time to get into Halloween stuff. The night beforehand, I did a double feature at Boston Common with Freaks of Nature & Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, two indie-ish horror movies (in that they got moderate releases and don't have a lot of big stars, but they're released by Columbia & Paramount) that aren't great, although I at least kind of liked Freaks of Nature, even if I wish it had kept its original title ("The Kitchen Sink"). I do find it kind of weird that Scouts Guide got the bigger release despite Paramount planning to give it a quick VOD release and Freaks being much better.
Getting home after midnight meant sleeping and writing fast to get to the Somerville Theatre's Horror Marathon, a cool twelve hours of scary movies with West of Zanzibar, Dracula, The Monster That Challenged the World, Seconds, Aliens, and The Lost Boys. All 35mm, Jeff Rapsis on the organ for the first. Long day, but a lot of fun.
So I slept in on Sunday, but caught up to the weekend's Chinese release, The Witness, a thriller that I found myself enjoying a bunch more than expected. I couldn't get myself to another movie until Friday, when another Chinese remake of a Korean movie, Ex Files 2 (actually a remake of How to Use Guys with Secret Tips), which was okay, but not nearly as good as its source material.
Then, on Saturday, I did a 3D double feature that pretty much ran the gamut of what movies can be. First, The Peanuts Movie, a surprisingly charming translation of the classic strip into modern animated feature. Then Love, Gaspar Noé's extremely NC-17-rated menage a trois drama. I'll eventually wind up adding the former to that big Peanuts memorabilia collection and this will probably be the only time I watch Love, but it's neat to see someone doing something different with this technology.
* * (out of four)
Seen 26 October 2015 in Somerville Theatre #4 (first-run, 35mm)
Coming out of Black Mass, I thought that I just didn't like gangster movies, especially those based upon actual events; they just become events strung together, a list of violent deeds that don't necessarily add up to anything. And yet, I can't help but think back to how thrilling I found Battles without Honor or Humanity, and that's even more a list of bullet points. What's the difference?
Well, to start with, the latter drives to something as Shozo Hirono ultimately realizes that the organization he joined with ideals, while Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) and company are mostly on a treadmill, doing more awful things but never creating the sense that he's gaining territory or power, even when the film specifically says that's what's going on. He doesn't sink morally, the webs between him and either his well-respected brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) or the FBI agent enabling him (Joel Edgerton) never grow more complicated. Stuff just happens until a new DA starts turning things around, then Bulger goes on the run, and then we don't even get into all the weird stories that floated when he was a fugitive.
It means that a decades-long pattern of violent crime that was scandalous on top of horrifying winds up becoming boring, especially since neither the screenwriters nor director Scott Cooper pares anything extraneous off, and they've got a real way of building up scenes like they're supposed to be horrifying (or cool, for those who find mob assassinations cool), but since the story is never really going anywhere, having it feel kind of pointless.
Great to look at in 35mm, though - I'll likely never see this in DCP to compare, but like Interstellar last year, it was a great reminder that film just looks better, even if a movie has been through DI and visual effects the way this has. I hope that this hanging around the Somerville for this long isn't just about it being a Boston thing but there being genuine interest in seeing things on film, because anything that gets more prints made and sent to Somerville (they mentioned being one out of roughly ten places to get 35mm) is a good thing.