Sunday, May 26, 2019

This Those Weeks in Tickets: 4 February 2019 - 24 February 2019

February was a month of long days at the movies when I wasn't feeling lousy, whether they be actual marathons or just multiple movie days.

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

The week started on Chinese New Year with The Wandering Earth, whose opening that day was kind of a surprise, because it was scheduled for Friday, but there was a spot when Crazy Alien didn't open, and they even snagged the Imax 3D screen for a few days, and that is the way to see it, as it settled in for a crazy-long run there. It would actually delay other things opening at Boston Common that weekend, which gave me a slot to catch Arctic with co-writer Ryan Morrison on hand, so that was kind of a win.

Then came a busy Saturday, doing a sort of double-double feature: First up, two new animated movies: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, which is clever as heck even if it can't quite be as inventive as the first one, and then a trip back up the Red Line to catch Tito and the Birds at the Brattle, which is ambitious in a different direction, but still pretty nifty. After that, it was back up to the Somerville Theatre for a couple from a couple from sci-fi festival, Axcellerator & Ikarie XB-1, the first with plenty of guests and the second something I hope appears on disc before too long, because it was nifty but not as thrilling as one might hope for on movie #4 of the day. Of course, I was back the next day for a 35mm print of the original King Kong.

After that, I headed across the river for a double feature's worth of Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts, which probably could have been put together into one presentation because it wasn't all things just under the time maximum length to be considered a short film as is usually the case.

Wandering Earth screenings started to thin out a bit come Monday, so that there would be a 10pm show of the thing that was going to open Friday, but, of course, that conflicted with another Chinese movie at the sci-fi festival, so I headed down there for Last Sunrise. That meant it was Tuesday before I finally got to see Integrity, and… Well, you could see why that was the movie that got pushed off. It's not great, even with Lau Ching-wan.

The festival didn't have much and it was a pretty busy week for new releases, so I was happy to check out Happy Death Day 2U on Thursday, finding it a fun sequel to a surprisingly good original, and I'd be glad to see it continue even if it wound up nowhere near where it started. I wasn't nearly so enamored of Friday's classier Everybody Knows, which is impressively crafted and pretty good at the straightforward art-house drama it's looking todo.

I was going to spend most of the day at the sci-fi festival on Saturday, but after Chesney Bonestell: A Brush with the Future, I was feeling pretty lousy,,so I just headed home to rest up for the Marathon, and while I can't say I got all the way through without a nap, but it was a bunch of fun seeing Innerspace, Dr. Cyclops, Rollerball '75, Woman in the Moon, Star Trek VI, Annihilation, Source Code, Sunshine, and Escape from New York on the big screen.

After that, it was pretty easy to lay off movies for a few days, but you've got to see the rest of the Oscar-nominated shorts before the awards, so that meant it was time for a Thursday night double feature - first the Animated Shorts, then the Live-Action Shorts, both of which were kind of same-y though in different ways. And opposite, with the animated ones kind of charmingly sentimental and the live-action is nastily dark.

The next night was Korean Film Extreme Job, a whole lot funnier than the Chinese movie with the same plot from last year, although maybe it's just a coincidence, as I've read about an American remake being developed that references this but not Lobster Cop.

Saturday was spent in New York for the second annual Hong-Kong-a-thon, which went from being a Grady Hendrix solo production last year to a Subway Cinema event, and it looks like that's the future for SC, as they're no longer the guys behind the New York Asian Film Festival. At any rate, it was a fun as heck event, with 35mm screenings of Project S, Hot War, Eastern Condors, Beast Cops, Bloody Friday, and Full Contact, and I was so zonked after that that I am more grateful than usual for the steady march of Ringo Lam discs from Hong Kong so I can properly see that last one.

It had me so exhausted that I didn't add anything my Letterboxd page on Sunday, but there would be more to come, including on an actual trip to Hong Kong rather than just seeing HK movies in New York!

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

* * * (out of four)
Seen 9 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

Maybe not quite so brilliant as the first one, in part because once you're behind the curtain is hard not to go down the road of being too self-aware, but that's almost a distraction. All that going on lets how the "invaders" are more delightfully creative than the supposed majority of the post-apocalyptic scenario slip in, simmer underneath the sibling rivalry material, and then re-emerge as both some of the movie's best jokes and the heartfelt point of thewhole thing.

I wonder, a bit, how kids will take its more literal commentary on its own tricks, but they're often smarter than you expect, and this movie takes full advantage.

Tito e os Pássaros (Tito and the Birds)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 9 February 2019 at the Brattle Theatre (special engagement, DCP)

I don't know that I was able to really give this one the shot it deserved, but there's clearly a great deal to like about it, from the beautiful background art to the great soundtrack to how they make fantastic imagery with the action at the end. It is, I suspect, one that plays a bit better for those who know the culture better. That's maybe a better explanation for how certain elements seemed off-putting that saying that the filmmakers seem a little bit unsure how to handle the horror elements in a family-friendly film much of the time. It doesn't quite seem to fit,and maybe blending those tones in a somewhat less messy fashion could have made it a much more thrilling sort of adventure.

Happy Death Day 2U

* * * (out of four)
Seen 14 February 2019 in AMC Boston Common #7 (first-run, DCP)

I suspect that Christopher Landon wrote this movie by taking all the bits he cut from the first because the how of it just didn't matter and gluing them together before tossing the minimum amount to make it a horror movie sequel in. Maybe he's commenting on how horror sequels are just remakes with twists, but that may be giving the parts with a knife-wielding guy in a baby mask way too much credit. That section of the movie is incredibly perfunctory.

It's a lot of fun anyway. Jessica Rothe is still kind of terrific as multiple-murder victim Tree, with room to grow even after starting out a better person despite retaining a sharp sense of humor. A fake-out before putting the ball back in her court has the nice side effect of expanding the supporting cast (or giving people who had tiny roles in the first a chance to steal scenes), and the shift to mostly comedy lets everyone play to their strengths. Given that Landon reworked someone else's script for the first one (by some accounts, almost completely), maybe this is the first time that he's truly making the film he wanted to after having seen something in that original script.

And by the end, it's done something horror series almost never do in becoming downright warm and upbeat. It's kind of got to make the plot nonsense to do it, but there's something amazingly gratifying about how it doubles down on the first's message of how adversity is a chance to become a better version of oneself. I kind of hope that the mid-credits scene indicates a third movie might eventually leave the original scale and genre behind and just find ways for these kids to have weird sci-fi adventures - let Tree and company run roughshod on history, space, clones, monsters, and whatever else Landon can come up with.

The Wandering Earth Arctic The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Tito and the Birds Axcellerator Ikarie XB-1 King Kong Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts

Last Sunrise Integrity Happy Death Day 2U Everybody Knows Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future Sci-Fi Marathon

Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts Extreme Job Hong-Kong-a-Thon 2 Hong-Kong-a-Thon 2

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