Tuesday, February 05, 2019

This Week in Tickets: 28 January 2019 -3 February 2019

Explain to me, world, why I can be starting this entry at 1am in the morning, only kind of tired, but I can't make it through midnight movies anymore.

This Week in Tickets

I hate that blank first page, but it was cold and theaters were playing things at weird times last week, with a lot of shows at 6pm (too early for me to make coming from Burlington) or 8pm (a lot of time to kill in freezing weather). I'm sure my friends and family in Montreal and Chicago will mock me for this, but it's how things wound up shaking out.

So I kind of tried to make up for it all at once on Friday, starting with Missbehavior at 7pm. It may not be Pang Ho-cheung's greatest film, but it's funny, 88 minutes long, and good-natured despite the raunch, with a music video at the end (as is the HK Chinese New Year movie tradition) that is pretty catchy whether you speak Cantonese or not. After that, I hung around for They Shall Not Grow Old, both as a gambit to stay warm and because there were projetion issues when I saw it back in December, and I figured maybe I'd enjoy it more if I could see it that way. I did, although it didn't necessarily leap from good to great.

(Aside: Look at those tickets. Is there any logic as to which screens at Boston Common have assigned seating and which don't? Is it just a matter of AMC only having gotten around to putting the stickers on the seats in some auditoria?)

That actually killed enough time that I arrived at the Coolidge just in time for Police Story, which looks so spiffy in its new restoration that I'm ashamed I zoned out at a point or two. Honestly, if you can't stay awake for Jackie Chan breaking an awful lot of glass, what can you manage? Insult to injury, it ran just long enough for me to miss the lass 66 bus, call a Lyft, and then have it wind up driving in a circle for ten minutes because the second person to share the ride was also coming from the Coolidge, albeit from the screening of Wes Craven's New Nightmare that got out a few minutes later.

Fortunately, this movie is coming out on Blu-ray soon, and I think it and its first sequel may show up at the Brattle in March or April. But, boy, do I wish the Coolidge's midnights started at 11:30pm; it would make a world of difference, transit-wise. Just call it "Round Midnight" rather than "After Midnight", and pretty please do this for yoru "Martial Art House" screenings.

Anyway, that left me in bed until noon, but that worked out well for seeing Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi at Fresh Pond at 4. Not really great, but you know what was? Seeing a bunch of kids still going to see Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse and chatting with the people working at the theater about who their favorite Spider-person is.

Sunday wound up being a day of errands, reading comics, and drilling down into the DVR while finally accepting that I'm just not going to see a lot of this year's Oscar-nominated films between the Movies About Musicians that I don't care about (well, I don't care about the movies; I'm sure Don Shirley and Freddie Mercury are fascinating) and having a hard time dragging myself out of the apartment for Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Vice. Maybe I'll manage it this week and post the results on the Letterboxd page.

They Shall Not Grow Old

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #14 (first-run-ish, RealD 3D DCP)

Huh, it turns out I saw this in the exact same theater as I did a month and a half ago. Sure, the multiplex may only have so many with 3D, but I wonder if I would have been a bit worried had I realized that, since there were projection issues with the Fathom Events screening. Fortunately, that wasn't an issue this time, and seeing it without tension and frustration wasn't exactly transformative, but having the projection work from the start, not worrying about missing the next show, and just having knowledge of what the movie is all made this a more pleasant, easygoing experience, enough so that I will probably pick up a Blu-ray if a Region-A-friendly, 3D version comes out.

It's often considered kind of gauche to talk about tech when talking about movies, but there's an impressive little "whoa, that's cool" moment when the film finally goes from being flat, black-and-white, and sort of recessed (Jackson frames it so that we're looking through a foregrounded window for the first section) to in color and 3D, which I kind of missed with the messed-up projection before. I'll bet it will look really cool when we figure out some sort of good glasses-free 3D display, whether from some sort of lenticular screen or just crazy-high frame rates, although that doesn't seem to be an immediate priority right now.

Blog entry from December
EFilmCritic review from December

Ging chaat goo si (Police Story)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 2 February 2019 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #2 (After Midnite: Martial Art House, DCP)

In a strange way, movies like Jackie Chan's Police Story are the closest thing you'll find to a Bollywood masala flick outside of India. It changes direction midway through, has pretty extreme tone changes even without taking that into consideration, and the elaborate fight scenes and stuntwork are the same sort of celebration of movement and visual spectacle as the dance numbers. Heck, some have space for musical interludes even before the Canto-pop that accompanies the tremendously frightening outtakes running over the end credits. The action swerves from slapstick to playing for keeps, and the comic-relief subplot with Maggie Cheung as Detective Ka Kui's girlfriend always seems more than a bit off.

Indeed, there are a lot of moments in this movie where Ka Kui is more than a bit of a jerk, and it seems a bit off when I compare it to Police Story 3: Supercop. Ka Kui was much more the goofball there, even when his ego was a bit out of control, and I wonder if I've just never seen it in the original Cantonese and the dubbed versions play up the comedy, if it's just the natural softening of the characters a few entries into a series, or if Chan doesn't really give a damn about that sort of continuity and just slaps "Police Story" on anything where he plays a cop because it helps put butts in seats.

That aside, you can see why the action makes it one of Chan's best. The opening sequence is downright incredible in a lot of different ways, going from a tense sting to this amazing thing where the cops and crooks more or less destroy a hillside shantytown to a chase to him hanging off a bus, with a little kung fu sprinkled throughout. There's more fun fighting throughout, with a really excessive amount of broken glass, including the last big stunt in the middle of a shopping center. Like a lot of the centerpiece stunts in Chan's movies, it's probably not actually as impressive as the careful martial-arts choreograph, but you still can't help but respect how Jackie goes out and puts his body on the line for your entertainment.

I'd be looking forward to having a nice copy of this on my shelf even if the late night hadn't defeated me, although I wish all of those things that mentioned the 4K restorations meant actual 4K discs - it looks great and I'd like to see every pixel.

They Shall Not Grow Old
Police Story
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

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