So, let's start off with some unfinished business:
By that, I obviously mean Arabian Nights: Volume 3, the Enchanted One, where I was thinking I might wind up by myself before a small handful of other people arrived. I'm kind of curious as to whether folks went with more compact scheduling or just bailed midway through that series. It was interesting, but this last one was a bit of a test.
Work and such (along with a DVR that was practically busting at the seams even before Tuesday's bounty got added) kept me busy for a couple days after that, and then I opted to do the Thursday-night early screening of Ip Man 3 rather than try my luck on the weekend, which would have snow, Red Line diversions, and the drawing power of recent Chinese movies interacting in unpredictable ways. It was a good but not packed crowd on Thursday, and we got to see a pretty entertaining movies which got better with a little reflection.
Friday night, I hit the Brattle for their too-attached-to-the-family-home double feature of 99 Homes & Crimson Peak. I was only going to do the first, but "gorgeous Guillermo del Toro movie on the big screen" is a pretty decent reason to stick around, even if it's not one I love.
The snow wasn't as big a deal as the initial forecasts, but the Longfellow bridge was (mostly) closed anyway, and from the shuttle bus it looks like they're replacing the tracks wholesale. Got me there in time to see Monster Hunt, the week's other Chinese movie. Very small audience, although I've got no idea whether it's the six-month delay or the expensive 3D tickets or the snow that kept it that way. After that, I figured I'd watch The 5th Wave, but decided to head up the Green Line to see it at Fenway rather than just hang around the Common while the snow fell; it would let me take a different route home that avoided construction, too.
Not sure what I think of the upgraded rooms at Fenway; so far they haven't hiked the prices to compensate for the decreased capacity, but they've got recliners and desks, kind of like the LuxLite seats in the SuperLux. Seating's reserved, and they won't let you leave a seat. You don't actually need to, although it's not obvious when you're looking at the seating chart for the first time, which is kind of an issue the first time around with reserved seating. Nice enough.
Then, on Sunday, a bunch of writing and then heading to the Harvard Film Archive for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, because that was pretty much the most anti-NFL thing going that afternoon. Considered sticking around for Roman Holiday, but opted not to (plus the HFA only takes cash and by the time I got to an ATM and back it would have started).
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 24 January 2016 at the Harvard Film Archive (Innocence Abroad, 35mm)
On the one hand, it's hard for those of us who didn't live through the period to take references to the straight-laced, conservative 1950s seriously when it was the decade that gave us Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and delightful sex comedies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; on the other, one does wonder if these movies would be nearly as much fun if the implication wasn't that these characters indulging themselves was a bit defiant. If the second case were entirely the reality, this movie would likely feel more quaint than it does; instead, it holds up for being sweet and funny more than just kind of cute.
Monroe and Russell play a pair of nightclub entertainers, Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw, who are not exactly inhibited on or off the stage. Lorelei, by far the more mercenary of the pair, has all but landed herself a rich husband in Augustus Esmond Jr. (Tommy Noonan), although his father's daily phone calls have thus far kept him from actually proposing. The solution is a trip to Paris where they can get engaged and married without interruption, though they don't go together - Lorelei is traveling by ship and Gus will follow by air. Dorothy comes with Lorelei as a chaperone, which seems like a sweet gig - the Olympic team is on the same boat, and there's no rule saying the chaperone can't have fun! The athletes' coach has them turning in early, leaving Dorothy spending a lot of time with Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid), a sweet guy except for how he's a private eye hired to spy on Lorelei. Not that she'd dream of cheating on Gus, even if another passenger (Charles Coburn) does have his own diamond mine.
As plots go, it's as wispy as cotton candy, kind of stumbling toward the end because it requires characters to act more nakedly selfish and unreasonable than they do before or after; whether that's the case in the original play or not, screenwriter Charles Lederer and director Howard Hawks are kind of gambling that they've built up enough goodwill to get away with it. The Good news is that it's also as sticky as cotton candy, creating plenty of room for Dorothy and Lorelei to have misadventures, musical numbers, and other entertaining moments without feeling like they're missing out on anything important. A sea voyage is often about filing time anyway, and the filmmakers use the farcical bits to keep things moving, if not forward, than side-to-side rather than backward.
Full review on EFC.