Tuesday, January 30, 2024

This Week in Tickets: 22 January 2024 - 28 January 2024 (Ow, My Back)

Heh, fun thing below: You can pretty clearly tell that the AMC in Boston Common is still using rolls of printer paper from a marketing campaign that's at least five years old (may be closer to ten), with all the morphing little balls, while the new-to-them place in Causeway Street has newer ones that just use the logo.

(Note: Both places have just started their fifth year of celebrating 100 years of AMC. I know 2020 got wiped out, but it's starting to look kind of weird!)

This Week in Tickets
One of the fun parts of turning 50 is when your back just suddenly starts hurting for no apparent reason and it lasts a week. The best part of that is when the ibuprofen you take before going to bed wears off before you wake up and you wonder if getting up is even possible before you start keeping a bill bottle and some water on the nightstand.

Anyway, that made for a weird week, the oddest part of which is that, somehow, my back actually felt pretty good after sitting in the Brattle's seats for Beau Is Afraid for three hours! Which is funny, because there weren't quite points where I was looking for an excuse to bail, but might have taken one.

Same the next day for the more the more obviously-comfortable seats in Causeway where I caught Johnny Keep Walking!, a fun little Chinese comedy that seems to be doing surprisingly well here - though it opened effectively splitting a screen's showtimes with Time Still Turns the Pages, it had a full slate by Monday, and got picked up for second and third weeks. It'll probably go to make room for Lunar New Year releases sometime next weekend, but it's done pretty well in China and it's not like the themes don't work everywhere, although the upbeat ending which flies in the face of capitalism probably seems much more possible there than here.

The next couple days, I wasn't even walking to the T station after work, so I stayed home and watched Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper, which was a tiny bit surreal because he's a friend of a friend, though definitely an arm's-length acquaintance. He's delightfully excited at discovering new birds in six corners of the United States. My late grandfather would have loved it.

Friday night, I headed downtown to catch the big Bollywood action movie, Fighter, in Imax 3D; it's pretty decent, though I was hoping for a bit better. Slick-looking, though; I sometimes wonder if all those FX and 3D conversion companies you see at the end of the credits where 75% of the names are South Asian naturally work a tiny bit harder for the local stuff.

The continuing "let's just not run the Green Line north of Kenmore at all" situation messed up my plans for Saturday, so they got pushed to Sunday, when I took in Rob N Roll & The Storm, and AMC didn't even try to make it difficult as a double feature! Not a bad afternoon, and I wonder if someone like GKids might pick up The Storm for video or the like; it's too nifty to vanish almost completely into some hole as often seems to be the case.

As always, watch my Letterboxd account for first drafts! Maybe follow me. Or just stick around here, because it's a little better than what I do on the subway ride home.

Beau is Afraid

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 22 January 2024 in the Brattle Theatre ((Some of) The Best of 2023, DCP)
Available to stream/purchase digitally on Prime and to purchase on Blu-ray on Amazon

While trying to decide what to catch on what seemed like a Monday night unusually stacked with good rep-cinema options (Forbidden Planet at the Coolidge, Miike's Audition in the Seaport), I figured on seeing this because it wasn't out of the question that Joaquin Phoenix would have an Oscar nomination announced the next morning, but paused when I saw the runtime on the Brattle's website. Oh, that's right - I didn't see in last spring because 179 minutes seemed like an awful lot of any movie that had its trailer.

And it is. Writer/director Ari Aster is a guy who, over his first few features, has not exactly been worried about efficiency, and has also been fortunate enough that he could indulge himself, just really getting into whatever particular part of the story drew his attention and being able to make sharp turns into different territory if that's what he figured would be the most interesting way to go about a segment. And, truth be told, he is better at that than a lot of people, and you can see it in Beau Is Afraid. At its most heightened and absurd, it's brilliantly funny, and in the moments where you can see the kernel of something genuine underneath the seemingly impossible surface, it's plain brilliant. The opening segment, where we're not quite sure whether Beau's perception of New York City outside his window as a warzone is meant to be literal or not, is electric.

It just keeps going, though, and once Beau is stumbling through other off-kilter stories, it gets too unbalanced. There's maybe an idea there about how the world in general is full of people who can't quite see the world as it is in different ways but everybody treats everyone else like they've got a common point of reference, but that concept is inherently slippery, and Aster can't quite get a grip on it if that's what he's going for. It means much of the movie ends up ping-ponging almost randomly, and never feels like it's getting closer to anything particularly interesting. Aster has all these ideas for weird, darkly comic bits and an order to place them in, but each individual one plays out a little longer than need be until it's three hours.

There are worse movies that seem like the same kind of personal indulgence, of course, and given the state of the industry, filmmakers should do these things whenever an opportunity presents itself, because they might not get another. The cast is actually kind of incredible at finding the spot where they're playing cartoon characters but have to an individual zeroed in on what makes each one of them tick. I laughed more than a few times. But, man, I never felt what he was trying to get out there, and was just glad to be done at the end. Beau Is Afraid Johnny Keep Walking! Fighter Rob N Roll The Storm

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