Friday, May 08, 2020

This Week in (Virtual) Tickets: 27 April 2020 - 3 May 2020

I've got to find something to do to make these pages a little more interesting, just for myself looking at them. Maybe screenshot the theaters' virtual cinema pages or cut up the little advertising cards in some of the discs.

This Week in Tickets

I kept a little busier this week, kicking things off on Monday with Pahokee from the Somerville's virtual screening room. It's the sort of documentary that may have you a little fidgety during the film but is pretty good stuff once you settle in and let it turn over a bit. It's a 2019 IFFBoston selection that I watched during the week we should have been at the 2020 edition, and the specific sort of film that makes one miss festivals like that.

On Wednesday, I hit up the Brattle's selections for Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, which sticks a fun idea for a supernatural sex comedy at the end of a lot of stuff that's not that entertaining, especially 40 years later. That makes it kind of an interesting double-feature with A Father… A Son… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood from the Coolidge's Lee Grant series, though: You kind of have to wrestle with what constitutes an acceptable sort of scoundrel now versus decades earlier to watch both.

I received a new Blu-ray in the mail during the week, and part of getting stuff off the too-watch shelf means not letting other things get there, so I did a double feature of Shatter & Call of Heroes (for two bits of Hong Kong action), and while the first not being a great Hammer/Shaw collaboration was a bit of a bummer, the second being more fun that I anticipated was a great surprise.

No more movies until Saturday, when I was back in the Brattle's virtual screening room for Deerskin, the latest from Quentin Dupieux and probably his most grounded, in that you can sort of track what's making its weirdo do weird things from real things rather than just being an artifact of being in a world slightly off-kilter. I also hit the grocery story to try and get good pizza-making stuff for my new pizza oven (it actually arrived in February, but who is setting a pizza oven up in the tiny backyard then?). Sunday afternoon, I discovered that I apparently can't start a fire in a metal container designed to hold burning wood chips that were marketed for the sole purpose of being set on fire, which is probably good for safety but leaves me with a lot stuff to make pizza in the fridge. Dejected, I went back in to watch the L.A. 3-D Space 3-D Movie Fest (and Ape). Some of that was rough, technically, but interesting, and, circling back around to missing festivals, it was surprisingly exciting to have to be at something other than a work call at a certain time.

Mostly quiet since then, but hoping for activity on my Letterboxd page this weekend.

A Father… A Son… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 29 April 2020 in Jay's Living Room (20th Century Woman: The Documentary Films of Lee Grant, Coolidge Corner Theatre Virtual Screening Room/internet)

Lee Grant's documentary from 2005 gets misty toward the end, figuring the end is likely near for 88-year-old Kirk Douglas, unaware that he's got another 15 years in him. Those are some hardy genes, especially considering how well Michael has aged in the meantime.

I can't recall any specific instance of Grant working with either Douglas as an actress, although I suspect it happened at some point. There's clearly enough familiarity there to get very relaxed interviews, and while one probably does have to be wary of whether documentaries about performers contain performance, there's a lot of enjoyable back and forth between the pair. I suspect that Kirk still not entirely being over Michael casting Jack Nicholson when producing One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had become a bit they go through on a regular basis, but even if it is, there's something genuine to it. I similarly wonder about them mentioning Lonely Are the Brave and Falling Down as respective favorite roles - it makes sense, as they're both striking movies with meeting parts, but they rhyme so well that it's almost too good, right?

There's also a bit of an issue in how to give the pair equal weight. For as much as both talk about how in many ways Michael might have had a harder time of it, trying to live up to how people saw Kirk, he almost comes across as too nice, too thoroughly adapted to his time and place to give half the movie a spark at points while the father can't help but hold on to some problematic aspects of his personality. The allegations that he assaulted a co-star were not well-known at the time of filming (though someone in Grant's position might well have been aware), but listening to him talk about women, it sounds uncomfortably plausible even as he seems to be quite a decent man in other respects. Even without that context readily available, it gives the audience something to unpack even in a doc that wears its fondness for its subjects on its sleeve.

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
A Father… A Son… Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Shatter & Call of Heroes
L.A. 3-D SPACE & Ape

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