Thursday, April 18, 2019

This Week in Tickets: 8 April 2019 - 14 April 2019

You know what's kind of great? Weekends where everything you do for entertainment is actually pretty darn entertaining.

This Week in Tickets

The work-week started with Dragged Across Concrete, which makes me ponder the calculus of movie-theater booking - it's got a guy who used to be a big star, but it's also coming out on VOD the same day, there's something else that doesn't need every showtime, it's 139 minutes and thus awkward to schedule… Anyway, I'm glad the Capitol picked it up, because even if it cost a bit more, it kind of benefits from being seen without distraction.

Tuesday was treated as a holiday, as it was the Red Sox' home opener, which was fun for the rings being passed out and such but later got out of hand scoring-wise and also very cold. Not ideal. Things got better on Friday, as the Red Sox won, it was moving at a good clip, and lots of fun things happened, including Jackie Bradley Junior making an amazing catch. The Sox have been bizarrely not good this year, considering how excellent almost the exact same team was last year, but baseball is fun.

After that, it was a pretty darn enjoyable weekend at the movies, because pretty much everything for the next couple of days was a solid example of its genre, and that much pretty darn good doesn't exactly require masterpieces. Saturday, for instance, started with Master Z: Ip Man Legacy finally arriving in North America, and it was filled with good screen fighters being put through their paces by Yuen Woo-Ping, and maybe it's the movie that makes Max Zhang a star rather than the guy the star fights. After that, it was time to head to Harvard Square where the Brattle had a double feature of Jackie Chan's Police Story and Police Story 2, where Jackie left no piece of glass unsmashed and pulled out a few just amazing fight scenes. There may be certain weak parts to these movies, but what he does well, he does very well indeed.

Sunday was another sort of split double-header, each half of which hit a certain part of my brain in a good way while indulging certain specific favorites. Missing Link, for instance, indulged my loves of animation (stop-motion specifically) and well-used 3D, while The Chaperone gave me Haley Lu Richardson as Louise Brooks, and that is pretty fantastic casting of one favorite as… well, maybe not quite another favorite, exactly, but an icon whose work I tend to enjoy.

That's a good run on my Letterboxd page; here's hoping for more before IFFBoston eats my life.

Dragged Across Concrete

* * * (out of four)
Seen 8 April 2019 in Capitol Theatre #2 (first-run, DCP)

I'm not sure which scene in this movie gets across where it's coming from most clearly - the one where a television in a convenience store runs a news report about two cops being suspended for behavior that doesn't see too far out of line, relatively speaking, while a robber cruelly and systematically kills everyone there? The one where their lieutenant warns the senior partner that he's becoming too cold but doesn't quite link it to the political correctness the roll their eyes at? The scene in a car where the two partners talk about how they can't make ends meet and are backing into a life of crime? Or another random murder of a relatively minor character on the heels of careful work to build her vulnerability up, the people around her understanding and helping with her brittle nature? It's a dark set of scenes even before it gets into a methodical bank robbery and low-speed pursuit that stretches out the rest of the movie.

It's weirdly hypnotic, though - filmmaker S. Craig Zahler stretches everything out a bit longer than many would, using the almost complete lack of a score to let the audience stew a bit. People draw out sentences, speak both a little more plainly and more elaborately than necessary, and feel a bit detached even when they're basically being decent and there should be a feeling of empathy. Zahler and cinematographer Benji Bakshi use spare compositions to isolate characters, placing them in empty spaces that make it hard to connect, the cast all seeming relatable but often just a bit off. It's like the people involved aren't quite human except for maybe the kids who have not yet been beaten down by the world, and it takes effort to push themselves in the right direction - and some have a hard time realizing it at that.

This one's never going to become a favorite and likely won't get a rewatch anytime soon, but there's something to its dissatisfaction and disconnection that plays as celebrating toughness on the surface but maybe some concern about how it can leave a person empty and going through the motions of doing right underneath. It's interesting, if nothing else, enough so to get me a little more interested in getting that copy of Bone Tomahawk off the shelf and into the disc player.

Ging chaat goo si (Police Story)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 13 April 2019 in the Brattle Theatre (Special Engagement, DCP)

I slept through bits of it at the Coolidge's midnight screening a couple months ago, and I think I might have missed different parts this time, but all together, it's clear why this is considered a sort of masterpiece; it's got some of the best action scenes ever shot, are the plot is kind of dead-simple but functional, and everybody is just chewing the appropriate amount of scenery.

Also, I couldn't help but giggle at how, in 1985, apparently a criminal enterprise was running on Atari 8-bit computers, with the big boss having a 64K 800XL on his desk (attached to a 1050 disk drive) while the witness printed out a SynCalc spreadsheet from a 48K Atari 800 attached to a model 825 dot-matrix printer. Not sure how many others in the audience would be quite so delighted, though.

It's a blast, and I'll probably hit it again when the Blu-ray arrives next week.

Liked it back in February, too

Ging chaat goo si juk jaap (Police Story 2)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 13 April 2019 in the Brattle Theatre (Special Engagement, DCP)

Jackie Chan kind of puts too much story and not enough action into this sequel, but that just makes it a bit of a step down from the first. It's still got a couple terrific fight scenes, a continued vendetta against any piece of glass that may find itself in Jackie's vicinity (down to the camera lens!), and a couple of the guy's best pure comedy bits.

Sometimes it feels kind of confused, like how it kind of doesn't know what to do with Ka Kui's girlfriend May, who is a lot of fun when she's giving as good as she gets but less so when she's bitter and issuing ultimatums. The finale is fantastic, as well.

And, three years later, they've upgraded to PCs!

Dragged Across Concrete
Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 7
Red Sox 6, Orioles 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Police Story 1 & 2
Missing Link
The Chaperone

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