Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This Week In Tickets: 11 June 2018 - 17 June 2018

Yes, I enjoy both 35mm prints and 3D movies. They're both a lot of fun.

This Week in Tickets

I wasn't going to do the early show of The Incredibles (and its attached short, "Bao"); I got down to Boston Common for another movie and MoviePass started acting really weird, highlighting every movie in a slot when I selected one and then not reserving any tickets. Didn't look like customer service would fix it in time, so I walked to South Station, got on the Silver Line, and headed for the Icon.

I feel like I should walk back my ambivalence about that place back a little; I've been down there more than I expected, mostly for 3D movies and the main "Icon-X" screen, and if you don't go Friday or Saturday and sign up for their free card/app, the price isn't bad. Still, I expect the prices are that low because I've never seen it crowded, and someone who works in the Seaport mentioned there's never anyone around if he goes there for a movie after work. Will the prices go up if people start showing? Dunno. I'm tempted to see something there opening night to see if it ever gets busy sometime, but I wonder if this premium-ish theater being so quiet has the ArcLight folks nervous about the plex they've got planned for Causeway.

Having somehow never seen Matinee, I went to that at the Somerville at midnight on Friday, and insert your joke about me being too old for that here; it left me wiped for pretty much all of Saturday. Then again, maybe the joke about how weird a time midnight is to show a film called "Matinee" is better.

I was able to get up bright and early on Sunday, though, to catch the cheap (and lonely) screening of Race 3 (not very good) with time to get some shopping done before Ocean's 8 (pretty fun).

Next up, some of the things I've been putting off. Roughs on my Letterboxd account.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 14 June 2018 in Showplace Icon at the Seaport #10 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

This year's Pixar short that is almost a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination because it's the one that the most people will see is, as per usual, clever and visually impressive, but I suspect that it will raise a lot of eyebrows about three quarters of the way through as viewers watch it and think something along the lines of that not really fitting in with what the short seemed to be going for up until that point. Writer/director Domee Shi has made a short that packs a lot of feeling into a few minutes, visualizing the sort of love you can put into food, how it can be a substitute for what's missing otherwise, with plenty of visual comedy as it goes awry.

And then something happens which works a lot better if you're assuming that the fifty-ish lady making the bao is an empty-nester but not so much if (like me) you thought she'd never had kids, and even if you had... Well, I don't know. It's kind of tricky, and I don't think anything after that is really quite so effective as what led up to it. There's still plenty to love - the animation style is beautiful, especially as it leans into the bulk of the cast of characters being ethnically Chinese in a way that could look like bad caricature but never does.

(Funny projection aside: Incredibles 2 is a scope movie, but was being shown on a 1.85:1-ish screen, and "Bao" is a 1.85-ish movie, but since it's "attached" to Incredibles 2, it's centered within the scope picture. Since Icon doesn't mask its screens, "Bao" winds up showing with black space all around it, which is not ideal!)

Incredibles 2

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 14 June 2018 in Showplace Icon at the Seaport #10 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

Man, it's good to see Brad Bird back doing animation, where he can do basically anything. One understands his forays into live action - nobody goes to film school with the dream of sitting in an office, managing a bunch of guys working on computers in cubicles - but to watch him set huge action pieces up with a dozen characters, each with different powers, doing their thing is to see a master at work; despite the strides Marvel has made, the only time this sort of big comic book action has really reached its potential outside of animation is the climax of The Avengers, and Bird manages that three or four times here.

It props up a pretty darn straightforward story, in that there's not really a turn that you don't see coming (everything from the Mr. Mom gags to the identity of the villain is awful familiar), but sometimes a well-told story is more about execution than surprise; though I still don't love the character design, the retro-styled world these folks live in is gorgeous, the action is great, and the three-D pops like in few other movies. The returning voice cast is just as good, and Michael Giacchino's score is still fantastic, if more bombastic than sly this time around.

It's a long time since the first movie, but also just a minute, which is kind of the way superhero stories work, struggling to be both timeless and of the moment. For Bird, that means continuing to wrestle with the very idea of these larger-than-life characters; both these movies and his live-action Tomorrowland seem to show a man enthralled by the idea of an elite but also distrustful even as he has a hard time taking the approach of someone outside of it.


* * * (out of four)
Seen 15-16 June 2018 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Midnight Specials, 35mm)

Somehow, despite liking Joe Dante and the way he thinks a lot, I haven't seen a lot of his work, and not this specifically. At first, it felt like a pretty good decision; the first act especially plays as nostalgic mush, complete with some of the more obvious needle-drops you can expect.

But it grows on me, in large part because Dante and his writers are tremendously fond of their characters. John Goodman's take on Nick Castle-like film producer Lawrence Woolsey is warm in all the spots where it might have been cynical; it's a smaller, more charming performance than you'd think from the poster. And at the center are Simon Fenton and Lisa Jakub as the two teenagers who fall for each other. Neither really "wins", as often seems to be the goal; they respect what the other is passionate about, and maybe learn a bit more general empathy, but Dante and the cast make it compelling without being antagonistic. But even the sillier characters (notably, Robert Picardo's panicky theater manager) are given a certain level of respect.

It gets pretty darn funny as the actual matinee starts, with a careful combination of intended silliness and chaos, and just enough peril to make things a bit more intense. (Also: I wonder how many of the people who complain about kids and teens in movie theaters now were like the kids shown being monsters in this one at the time!) It may be someone else's nostalgia, but it's earnest and inclusive without trying to label that era any kind of golden age.

Ocean's 8

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 17 June 2018 in AMC Boston Common #10 (first-run, DCP)

Not necessarily the most inventive heist movie ever made, but very fun. It's got a cast full of people who know the ins and outs of their roles almost by instinct, sure hands who make a caper based on sleight of hand as much fun as one based on big effects pieces, and takes just enough time to tell the story and get out but still have moments to play.

Sandra Bullock slides right into the lead role like she's been waiting for it all her life, and I'm sure that I'm not the only person that thinks Cate Blanchett is playing a partner in more than crime in a role whose sharpness plays well off Bullock being smooth - kind of the opposite of the dynamic George Clooney & Brad Pitt had in the previous three movies. The ensemble is great from top to bottom - good enough that I was kind of delighted to be reminded that Sarah Paulson was in the movie when it got to her - but it's especially delicious to watch the likes of Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham-Carter in parts that aren't quite winking self-parody, but aren't quite not. The Ocean's movies have always has a sense of the genre conventions they're playing with, and this one perhaps embraces them with less fuss than the rest, right down to how they are not quite teasing a possible cameo all the way to the last moment, by which point it doesn't really matter because director Gary Ross and co-writer Olivia Milch have managed to use that hook to get the audience more interested in what's actually in front of them.

Incredibles 2 & Bao
Race 3
Ocean's 8

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