Friday, June 26, 2020

These Weeks in (Virtual) Tickets: 1 June 2020 - 21 June 2020

Not many movies over the past few weeks, but sometimes you just feel good about accomplishing something.

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

This Week in Tickets

In my case, it's finally finishing up the last of my Fantasia Festival reviews from last year, with nearly a whole month to spare before the 2020 edition would have begun! It stretched out a bit because this batch included things I could watch on disc or Prime, thus refreshing my memory and maybe going out strong with better reviews. The batch included a re-watch of Promare (and the related shorts on the disc); G Affairs (from a Hong Kong import); Miss & Mrs. Cops; Why Don't You Just Die! (and the shorts by the director included on the disc); The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (which I couldn't fit into my 2019 schedule); and Lifechanger (which I couldn't fit into my 2018 schedule). A mixed bag, but it's weirdly nice to be done and not be behind on some other festival thing. It won't last, even with other festivals in delay/cancellation mode, but for now, I'm going to relish not feeling behind.

What's filled the time since? Season 2 of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, which has been exactly the comfort food I've wanted while waiting things out, as it's very much in the same style of the imports PBS used to regularly show Thursdays at 9pm as part of the Mystery! anthology (which has now been reabsorbed into Masterpiece) and a genuine delight. I kind of love how the title character could be thirty-ish or forty-ish, which could have been a major difference but isn't, and how sidekick Dot has matured in believable but not flashy ways over the course of the series (I think I've seen Ashleigh Cummings in several un-Dot-like roles in Aussie horror movies, but not so that I can recognize her in one from the other). One more run to get through before the movie arrives on disc (amusingly, I think that I was in Oceania when it played its brief special show in Boston). I've also happily allowed the contents of the daily crossword links newsletter to eat a bunch of time, with the newspapers in the morning and the indies in the evening.

I did finish this last week off with a few movies, though - Tokyo Godfathers was a recent re-watch on disc, thanks to a new Blu-ray; L.A. 3-D S.P.A.C.E. has another streaming fest; and I got Stand-In off the shelf. The last one arrived as part of a Twilight Time/ClassicFlix sale and was an interesting curiosity, picked up because of Bogart in a supporting role as he was just about to become a leading man at the time. One of the things that I found myself scratching my head over, though, was the trailers - they look like genuine 1930s/1940s previews except that the text is clearly digital, and I genuinely wonder whether ClassicFlix was trying to recreate the original trailers with their restored footage or just something like them.

With festival stuff in the rear-view, time to really start working on my shelf, even if much of it will hit my Letterboxd page after EFC or the blog.

Tokyo Godfathers

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 20 June 2020 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, Blu-ray)

Wow, I've been doing this so long that I've got a review up from when I saw it back in 2004! The really funny bit about it is that, looking at that, I wasn't exactly all-in on filmmaker Satoshi Kon, but apparently would be by the time his next (and final) film came out, enough to be gutted by his early death and frustrated that nobody has stepped up to finish the one that was in (pre) production when the cancer took him.

Rewatching this one, I'm kind of impressed by just how willing he is to make every character off-putting and not pretty, even though he could have found a spot or two to do so. It's something that really grounds the characters in their milieu and doesn't let him use appearance as a way to signal goodness, even ironically. The most memorable moment when he could - when Miyuki is shedding the layers one needs to survive on the streets and revealing that, underneath, she's still someone who can return to the life she fled - doesn't go for that. It's a thing that might have hurt the film commercially on its first release but sticks out as honest and committed now.

I suspect that I like it more now than I did then in part because of this; in the middle of a run of films that often included flights of imagination or fantasy, this modest one sticks out for how it seemingly refuses to do so even if the broader story is one of outright fantasy as everything clicks into place via fate and happenstance. It's a really fascinating case of being a film that doesn't seem to fit with the rest but actually works just fine

Full review from 2004


* * ½ (out of four)
Seen 21 June 2020 in Jay's Living Room (off the shelf, 4K Blu-ray)

This isn't a great movie, but it's good enough that I found myself wondering various things while watching it. For instance, what was Humphrey Bogart's level of fame in 1937? Clearly not a star yet, but well-enough known and respected to be given first below-the-title billing with a slightly larger font size than everyone else (folks who watch old movies recognize this hierarchy). Sure, maybe it's just looking back from eighty-odd years later where we expect Bogie to be great but only half-remember everyone billed before him here, but there's little question that he's one of the most dynamic parts of the movie, enough so as to make one wonder why there's not more of him in it.

Other parts land in interesting ways, too - for instance, a villain intending to buy and dismantle a troubled but not necessarily failing film studio, for instance, although in the 1930s Americans were less reflexively anti-socialist, enough that a film could involve the workers seizing the means of production in response to a play that looks an awful lot like modern private equity. Leslie Howard's accountant sent in to save the studio plays as someone on the autism spectrum today, although that term might not have been around then, but it's interesting that he's not treated like a caricature or a monster, and it feels weirdly progressive that he can be like this and not need to be explained or justified.

It's a shame that the rest of the movie seldom lives up to its most interesting bits. There's not a lot for Joan Blondell to do as the stand-in teaching Howard's accountant about the movie business, even when they contrive to find more, though she's obviously charming enough that you can see why she was a star at the time. The bits with the grifters who are killing Colossal Studio all land with a thunk, and the revelation that things are as bad as they are because Bogie's producer is an (apparently high-functioning) alcoholic don't really fit at all. They come out of nowhere.

It's a mess, probably lucky to have gotten a Blu-ray release because it's got a pre-superstar Bogart in it, but it is at least frequently funny and its attitudes age better than is often the case

G Affairs

Miss & Mrs. Cops
Why Don't You Just Die!
Kirill Sokolov Shorts
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil

Tokyo Godfathers
L.A. 3-D SPACE Fest #3

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