Wednesday, May 13, 2020

This Week in (Virtual) Tickets: 4 May 2020 - 10 May 2020

A lot of "other stuff going on" this week

This Week in Tickets

I believe I actually started the week early, watching "Das Foto-Shoot" and "Being Flat" in the morning before "commuting" to work at the other end of the apartment, probably figuring on actually getting the Deerskin review they were attached to written while waiting for queries to run or meetings to end, but even in sane times, everything takes longer and I miss writing on the bus and, yeah, I just sort of suggested that I missed taking the bus to work but, hey, it was a good environment for me!

And then, in the evenings… Not much movie-watching, because NESN was re-running the 2004 Red Sox postseason, and, hey, that was pretty great, although watching it fifteen years later in a more sane fashion - that is, not DVRing it, going to the Brattle for their first stab at a Boston Fantastic Film Festival, and then starting it when I got back to the apartment at 11pm only to discover that these games were five hours long - obviously wasn't the same.

One thing I found myself considering as I watched them was that the only editing they did was cutting out some ad breaks and skipping innings to get down to two hours, to the extent that they still had on-screen advertising for channel 25's newscast at points, which makes sense in one sense but in another, why do it this way? Sure, a lot of people want to re-experience it the way they did the first time, or the way their father did, but I found myself wondering what a good post-production staff could do with everything that Fox and MLB shot during the game, the best upscaling algorithms available, and maybe a scripted play-by-play that's not Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doling out generic patter, conventional wisdom, and incomplete analysis. The people who direct and produce the telecasts live events like these do downright amazing work, but it's obviously not the best possible version of it. Maybe letting top editors loose on the production would create something that feels fake, and I suppose that in normal times, there's little market for the "World Series Director's Cut" that it would be a money-loser, but I'd still kind of like to see it.

Which makes for an contrast with the night I didn't watch old baseball but instead caught The National Theatre's presentation of Frankenstein, which they were streaming on their YouTube channel for a week, with different productions taking the spot every seven days for the duration of the pandemic. I intended to watch both versions, but messed up dates and time-zone issues, so only caught the one with Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor. It's still a pretty great production, although you kind of need both to get the total experience.

Saturday, I caught Thousand Pieces of Gold, the first "virtual screening room" engagement that really made me regret that I wasn't seeing it on the place's actual screen. It's a fine restoration of a movie that seems to have been badly overlooked the first time around, one that I'm happily ordering on Blu-ray in addition to having kicked the price of a ticket the Brattle's way.

Sunday wound up being errand day, with laundry needing to be done and groceries needing to be fetched, and I was all excited to try out my pizza oven, but I had a comical time actually starting a fire using "firestarters" in this metal box designed to contain burning wood. Literally ran out of matches trying to light it and had to make a third trip out of the house of the day to get a lighter from CVS and I felt guilty by the time I was at Davis Square for having been out of the house so much. By the time the additional "conditioning" burn was done, there really wasn't time to make a pizza, so that would be a challenge for later in the week, and I just opted to try and get some stuff off the DVR that night instead.

Stuff's appearing here before my Letterboxd page these days, because as I said earlier, I miss the bus and the subway, which is where I would write up first impressions, but it's still fun to follow that and like stuff and put it on your to-watch list, if that is what you use the platform for!

NT Live: Frankenstein (Miller as the Creature, Cumberbatch as Victor)

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 6 May 2020 in Jay's Living Room (NT Live, YouTube via Roku)

As much as I've grumbled about wanting this on disc since first seeing this version in 2011, finally getting to watch it in similar fashion, though by streaming rather than physical media (2011 was a while ago; Netflix Watch Instant was kind of a new thing at the time), instead made me realize that it's kind of out of place in the living room. You're supposed to be in an audience for this, so that it can be larger than life or human-sized or…

Well, maybe we just have a tendency to calibrate "right" for these things to the scale at which we first experience it, even if we later see it in a different light at a different scale.

Either way, this is still a terrific production and one that I hope to catch in theaters again sometime. It's a pair of great performances and a nifty staging, and it cuts right to the heart of the themes that make Mary Shelley's work so memorable in all iterations.

What I thought seeing this version in 2011
What I thought seeing the version with the cast reversed in 2014

Das Foto-Shoot & Being Flat
Thousand Pieces of Gold

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