Thursday, May 21, 2020

This Week in (Virtual) Tickets: 11 May 2020 - 17 May 2020

I think this is the first week of lockdown where I went in with the goal of actually watching a movie every night, and I think it went pretty okay.

This Week in Tickets

I started out by noting that the Brattle recommended Dave Made a Maze as their #BreakYourAlgorithm selection on Monday, and since I don't know that I'd seen it since it ran at BUFF, it seemed like a good thing to dive into. It is, as you might expect, still a bunch of fun, even if it's not quite the same when you're watching it in your living room by yourself, knowing what you're in for, versus getting hit by it with a crowd, but what is?

I actually tried to to watch a second movie Monday night but conked out, and decided that if I was going to do an "RIP Twilight Time" post, it would be with another movie, so I went with Model Shop, a Jacques Demy movie they put out which seems like it really should be in the Criterion Demy set since his early films have Marvel-style continuity, which I suspect might be a fun way to introduce today's binge-watcher to him as a filmmaker.

Wednesday night, I pulled an impulse-purchased disc off the shelf and did a double feature of Deluge & Back Page, although it was mostly about seeing the first after having seen clips posted and figuring, well, better see the whole movie. Not necessarily great stuff, but interesting since Deluge might be the first American post-apocalyptic movie, at least in terms of how we think of the genre, and I am kind of fascinated by sci-fi in the golden age of cinema. I'm going to have to dig into saturday serials sometime, since that appears to be where most of the action was.

Thursday evening I went with Knives Out, in part because I was falling behind in my blogging and figured sprinkling some stuff I'd already seen in there would slow that down. Besides, what's the point of buying these 4K discs if you don't occasionally marvel at how good this stuff looks.

The weekend wound up bringing a pretty decent slate of movies, or at least ones I wanted to see. I kicked that off with Free Country via the Coolidge and Geothe-Institut, which turned out to be a remake of a Spanish film I saw at Fantasia a few years ago. I'm guessing it's not quite so strong, but it's been long enough that I didn't immediately recognize everything. Saturday night, I started with Driveways, which is kind of terrific, and then decided to finish the double feature with On a Magical Night Turns out that the second would be a more natural double feature with Alice from the Somerville Theatre's offerings, although to be honest, Night was going to suffer in either pairing because both Driveways and Alice are really terrific.

Not nearly as much getting seen this week, but re-watches will probably show up on my Letterboxd page before here, though I'm not sure what the rest of the week looks like

Dave Made a Maze

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 11 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, Blu-ray)

This was easily my favorite film from the Boston Underground Film Festival three years ago, and it's still kind of fantastic. It's impossible to get knocked flat by discovery and creativity the second time around, but some of the ideas and performances are still strong - it's a genuinely fun set of characters, from the most to least nuanced, and it's kind of a shame that Meera Rohit Kumbhani doesn't seem to have had any sort of breakout since. The craft is really great for something that was made on a fairly insane schedule.

The theme of it sits a little easier with me on a second viewing, with the inconsistency working a little more. At first, the film seemed to be wrestling a bit with not necessarily knowing how to say "some people just aren't artists, no matter how much they want to be, and that's okay". This time through, I get a bit more of a sense of the filmmakers talking about getting started - it can take a lot of false starts to find your medium, you maybe don't necessarily want to share those first attempts with others, and while it's important to finish, just so that you know you can do it, you may wind up losing or burying those first attempts. And, to repeat, that's okay

I think there's a bit of both in there, and maybe that makes for a muddled metaphor, but getting started is messy.

Full review from 2017

Knives Out

* * * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 14 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, 4K Blu-ray)

This 4K disc is pretty dang good-looking, the sort of thing that reminds me that what sits on my shelf is really competitive with what I saw in the theater. Just really gorgeous.

It's hopefully not too spoilery at this point to say that what filmmaker Rian Johnson does here makes it a bit more rewatchable than it might otherwise have been; he's pointed out that the plan was to put a Alfred Hitchcock movie inside of an Agatha Christie novel, so you don't get quite so caught up in either spotting where Johnson was trying to trick you or getting bored because scenes don't work if something isn't being held back. The movie is, in many ways, enjoyable the second time around in the same way it was the first.

And it's still great, full of fun characters and witty exchanges, and Johnson is really great at just knowing what he's doing. His movies aren't full of flashy camera moves or stylization, but they move quickly and feel slick and stylish without ever coming across as generic. The film may have a couple of spots where it hits a bump - although I kind of suspect that the Trump conversation will come across a bit more as a useful time capsule than an awkward attempt to be topical when we watch it ten years from now - but I really appreciate the way he knows how to use his tools well enough that he doesn't have to show it off.

What I thought last fall

Dave Made a Maze
Model Shop
Deluge & Back Page
Knives Out
Free Country
On a Magical Night (Chambre 212)
Alice (2019)

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