Monday, September 23, 2019

This Week in Tickets: 16 September 2019 - 22 September 2019

Unless I have a weird impulse to get to the ballpark one last time, this is my last trip to Fenway of the year, and at least it's memorable.

This Week in Tickets

Tough to end on a more memorable game than this one, though - picked up a bobblehead, saw the grandson of Carl Yastrzemski make his Fenway Park debut with the Giants, and had the game go on forever. I am reasonably sure that the first game I saw at Fenway as a kid may not have been the actual "Yaz Day" retirement game but was right around there, so it was kind of neat, even if I joked that this was really exciting for old people.

I won't miss expanded September rosters when they're gone next year, though - you're supposed to get weird baseball when a game goes past midnight - people playing out of position, infielders pitching, the reluctant walk out to the bullpen of the next night's starting pitcher. But with all those extra players, relievers in particular, it was not just more baseball, but managers playing matchups in the 13th! There's a point where you think, hey, those two minutes pitching changes add to the game could be the difference between taking the T home and calling a cab! And then it's not, because the game goes on, and eventually reaches the point where you hope it goes on forever so that it gets really weird. It doesn't, though, ending at around 1am, with the Red Sox losing, because it's been that sort of year.

Then I take a Lyft home, looking at my phone all the way back, until I get home and immediately realize it's not in my pocket. I send a message to the company, saying I'll stay up until 3am, if they get the message to the driver quickly. It's not quite quick enough, and as you might imagine, the guy who's dropping you off at 2am is not answering the phone when I get to work. I get the thing back that evening, and a $15 lost-item charge is better than buying a new smartphone, but I'm kind of zonked for the rest of the week and have learned a valuable lesson about that thing going in a pocket with a zipper.


Saturday, I hit the Coolidge for Live from the 36th Chamber, in which Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA and his compatriots gave The 36th Chamber of Shaolin a new, hip-hop soundtrack before the audience's eyes:

That bit before introducing the film is the only time RZA used the piano. Some folks at the Coolidge moved it onto the stage for that minute. It was a bunch of fun, and 36th Chamber is a good movie to do this with - it's a classic that's not so perfect that you can't fiddle with it.

The plan after that was to hit the Fluff Festival, but I was an idiot and got off the Green Line at Hynes rather than Copley, and unfortunately the train to Lechmere, from whence I would catch a bus to Union Square, comes from Heath Street, and I didn't figure it out until too late (trust me, if you're from Boston, you're nodding along and shaking your head at that mistake). It really didn't leave me much time to actually be there, so I went straight to Assembly to see Ad Astra on the Imax-branded screen. It was pretty darn great, and recommended to be seen huge so you can sort of fall into it rather than dissect the rest.

AMC put the "AMC Artisan Films" label on it, which is a stretch, but defensible because it is an odd sort of science fiction film. They're doing the same for Midway, and I gotta ask - if a gigantic World War II movie packed with visual effects directed by Roland Emmerich and released by Lionsgate counts as "Artisan", what doesn't?

Sunday started with more live accompaniment, with the Somerville welcoming Jeff Rapsis to accompany Girl Shy. Unfortunately, the 35mm print didn't arrive and they didn't really have a great DVD player/projector combination, but it's still a very fun movie, especially once you get to the end and the chase really makes Jeff work. Then there was time for a bit of a rest before heading to Fenway and the only screening of Villains I could easily make. Kind of not great, but maybe a few tickets sold means Fenway books a few other indie genre films as the landscape changes over the next few months.

I'd better see enough to update my Letterboxd page over the next few days, as there's a business trip coming up and the new headquarters/hotel is not near a mall and there's team-building crud planned for every night.

Shao Lin san shi liu fang (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin)

* * * (out of four)
Seen 21 September 2019 in Coolidge Corner Theatre #1 (first-run, DCP with live accompaniment)

This was a special screening with RZA and accomplices doing a live score, and while the soundtrack was kind of weird at spots - removing the soundtrack took the foley out in a few places, the dubbing didn't always match the subtitles, and the mix was a bit odd - it was a lot of fun. I don't really love this particular movie; it's three things stuck together with the middle one involving a lot of people being dinks, and time doesn't seem to flow the same way inside and outside the temple. Watching how the new music interacts with the action certainly keeps things more fun in the somewhat extended middle. It's fun on its own, if not quite the big deal it seemed like it would be - the hip-hop is great for when things are about to get violent and making some of the montages a bit less goofy, but doesn't quite transform the film otherwise.

What I thought back in '12

Girl Shy

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 22 September 2019 in Somerville Theatre #1 (Silents Please!, digital with live accompaniment)

Not quite the ur-romantic comedy because, despite how much you can flirt with just looks and slapstick reactions, it often feels a little more like someone steamrolling someone else since you can't have the sort of back-and-forth that actual dialogue allows in a silent without the intertitles slowing it to a crawl. It seems even more the case now that I watch it fourteen years after the first time, with Harold seeming like a maniac in this finale that would not only be ruined by cell phones, but might have trouble with regular ones.

Still, you kind of have to love the almost insane simplicity of this movie, which kills a bit of time to make Harold into a highly unlikely romantic hero and then sets up the meet-cute, separation, obstacle, and frantic reunion with almost no pause in between, with that last bit pushed to quite frankly absurd lengths. It demonstrates, a bit, why Lloyd is probably third among the silent comedy greats - he often builds his finales as piling on more to the point where they get exhausting, while Chaplin would have the great emotional moment and Keaton the one shot that just drops one's jaw

It's one of Lloyd's best-loved films, although I must admit to having a bit more of a fondness for the truly weird ones. Still pretty good stuff.

Full review (from 2005) on eFilmCritic

Giants 7, Red Sox 6
Live from the 36th Chamber
Ad Astra
Girl Shy

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