Tuesday, November 29, 2005

a sign...

This was taped to a column in the little maze between the train station and the red line underneath South Station here in Boston. I snapped it Saturday night in the final leg of the journey back from Jersey...

What do you think?

• Helpful directions?

• Insulting instructions?

• Paranoid warning?

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ramblin' on the rail...(no movies here)

It's about 8.30pm now and I'm on the gor-am frickin train headed back to Boston. Through a series of fateful mis-steps, I'll probably end up back in Beantown around 11pm or so, almost five hours later than planned.

I was supposed to leave Metropark, NJ on my train at 2.22, but I stepped onto a train that pulled in there around 2.15. There was no announcement about the train, but it was Amtrak and when I got on, I asked a conductor which way the business class car was, and he said to walk thru the cars to the front of the train. So that's what I did. I've never gotten a biz class seat before, but when I was buying my ticket online I saw that the price diff between coach and business today on that train was just a few bucks, and getting a biz class ticket would guarantee me a seat, so I figured, what the heck, right? Don't let the elevator bring us down - Let's go crazy!~

Yeah, well, I was almost to the first car and no business class so far. I stopped a conductor who was working her way back through the train and asked her about the business car, and she looked at my ticket, then looked at me and told me, "You're on the wrong train. You've got to get off at the next station and catch your train."

Frack. No business car on this train, so, and just about every seat I'd seen in the cars I'd walked through were already full. With a ticket for the wrong train, I couldn't get a seat on a sold out train, bleah. So, I hung out between cars until we reached the next stop, Newark International Airport, apparently also known as Liberty Airport. I hadn't heard that before. So out of touch with my homeland. Sad, that.

When we stopped there, I found the conductor woman on the platform with another ocnductor and asked to double-check, "So I should get out here and wait for my train?" And she confirmed, "Yup, should be maybe fifteen minutes behind us."


For nothin.


I can only be SOME miffed at her. It was MY first wrong step that set me on this ridonkulous roundabout path back to Boston.

So, I settled in at the NIA station for a while. Studied the departures screen a while and realized that MY train, the 2.22 out of Metropark, which would've been about 2.35 at Newark I guess, wasn't listed as stopping/leaving here. Sure enough, an Acela train sped right on by me at just about the time my train would've been due. Frack.

I got on the phone with 800-USA-RAIL and had to work a little to get an agent to tell me that there was a 3.19 train to Boston that I should be able to hop onto. This was at about 2.40 or so. I could hear her typing and clicking through her Amtrak database whatnot as she vocally wondered at why the conductor would tell me to get out at a station without a ticket window. The agent told me that I wouldn't be able to exchange or buy a ticket for the 3.19 train, so I'd have to explain my situation to a conductor once I got on the train. And oh, hey, look at that, it's running 20 minutes late.


So, I slacked away the time, stood outside on the platform for a spell, stood inside the waiting area for a spell, wondered as I do about these spaces between spaces that are built specifically for people to WAIT in and PASS through, having deep-ish hollow half-thoughts about how these are places that are sort of asleep, somehow, and they sort of push people into particular state of consciousness...


Read some MAKE LOVE THE BRUCE CAMPBELL WAY, an autographed copy that my most excellent friend Brad sent me. It's a fun, charming read, but just then 'twas difficult to make much progress in cuz I kept breaking out of the reading to look down the railway for my new train. Well, 3.30 came and went and I was getting antsy. I wanted to go over this mess once more w someone at USA-RAIL. So, I got a new agent on the line and she explained that it was very likely that I wouldn't be able to get on the 3.19 train because of holiday sold-out-ness, and it was going to Springfield anyway, not Boston. And I explained that the departures screen had it listed as "Boston via Springfield" and then she told me, "Oh, you could get another train once you get to Springfield, but since this train is delayed now, I'm not sure what train you could get when you arrived."

"You're safest bet is the 4.19, which will go directly to Boston. But you will definitely need a ticket." So I explained, "The last agent I spoke to told me there were no ticket agents at this station." And she was a bit huffy, "No, there is supposed to be an agent there until 5pm. You go find that agent and get yourself a new ticket!"

*sigh* "Thanks."

So, I went to get myself a new ticket. The agent at the Newark airport station was very helpful and proactive. First she located the next train to Boston for me, a 4.19 train, then got me a refund for my original ticket, then walked me through the purchase of a new ticket on this 4.19. The ticket printer was down at her station, and she was transcribing my new reservation number for me - I opted for the more expensive biz class again, to be sure that I'd get a seat, after all this, I definitely wanted a frickin seat! - when she stopped scribbling, "Oh, here, let me just do this for you!" And she didn't actually do it, but with her let's-print-the-hell-out-of-this-ticket attitude, she SEEMED to vault over the ticket counter and bounded to one of their quik-trak ticket machines. I gave her my credit card and she swiped, touch-screened, and printed my new ticket for me. If I was gonna shoot this as a flashback in my movie, she'd probably dance and hand-jive the whole time she was working the quik-trak and finally hand the ticket over to me with a great body-wave flourish of some sort and a sparkled smile, and perhaps cartwheel off-camera back to her station.


Well, I was upstairs at the ticket agent's station when that delayed 3.19 rolled on thru. If I blinked I would've missed it. No doubt they were trying to make up for lost time as much as possible every stop. Never did find out what "Boston via Springield" really means.

The 4.19 was running 45 minutes delayed.

Gotta love holiday travel.

I spent a chunk of my waiting time upstairs and indoors, sittin on the floor in the corridor connecting all the track platforms. Around 4.20 or so I decided to go back down to the platform and plant in one of the waiting rooms. Pretty spiffy waiting areas. The sky went from pink to purple to black as the clock advanced to just about 5.05 or so. No train in sight. No announcments of a train in sight. Okay, so maybe the "45 minute delay" message on the departures screen would be updated to "1 hour delay." I really wouldn't be surprised.

I looked down to read a bit more Campbell, then looked back up, and hey-presto, the 4.19 had disappeared from the screen! WTF? I supposed it was possible that I might've missed the train while reading a paragraph or two, and the train would be in a hurry to make up lost time, and would speed off again as soon as possible, right? Feckall.

But arrive, spew passengers, suck up new ones, and depart, without me noticing, in the timeframe of a few sentences of Campbell camp? Doubtful. How could the train have come and gone in that short a time?

Alien abduction? Might explain the clocks and departure screen... Or perhaps they kept me for a whole day, or several? No, the same people who were in the waiting area before the train blinked out of existence were still there after. And my butt felt relatively unprobed.

Maybe I had some kind of episode? No one was looking any more afeared of me than typical, and I didn't see any blood on my hands or clothes, but y'know, I'd like to think I'd be smart enough to dispose of any evidence, even in a psychotic break, so that didn't prove anything.

Oh, but I had to get to the bottom of this, so I decided to investigate the most likely possibility. I went into the bathroom to check for signs of probulation or implants...

No, I didn't.

Well, not til later, y'know, when I usually do it, every evening before wrapping myself in foil, arming the traps, and going to sleep.

What I DID do - I got my stuff together and went back upstairs to see the ticket agent (who according to the USA-RAIL agent was probably done for the day) and see if she could shed some light on the mystery train... Which is a very fun quirky film by Jim Jarmusch, btw. I mentioned it when writing about BROKEN FLOWERS, but I think now that maybe I meant "eccentric" and when I typed "eclectic" somewhere in there...? Or maybe I meant both...?

Anyhow, at the gate between the corridor to the tracks and the ticket agent, I encountered a woman in a long black puffy coat who was waiting to get through to see someone at Amtrak as well, about the disappeared 4.19 train. When the attendant opened the gate, we both went up to my friend the super-agent and explained that the 4.19 had been wiped from the departures list. "Oh, they do that here!" She said it like, I dunno, like it was some quaint custom or something. I wonder if that was a consultant's suggestion. If a train is more than 45 minutes behind schedule, just take it off the list cuz it hurts the reputation of the brand...?

Anyhow, she checked a clock on her monitor and was suddenly shocked that we were upstairs and at her counter and not on the platform waiting on our train. She looked past us over our shoulders at where our train would be coming from on the horizon and acted as if she could see it. She told us it's definitely on its way and we should go back down to the platform to wait. Even as she was telling us this, I felt like she was using a little trick that should only work on kids, y'know? Psyching us out with a "don't look now!" sorta move?

Whatev. It worked.

Back down on the platform, we met a half dozen other people who were wondering about the mystery train. We chatted for a few minutes, then just stuck w the awkward silence for a few minutes more and, lo and behold, train 194, departing at 4.19, rolled into the station at just about 5.30pm.

We got under way pretty quickly I guess. I ended up following the woman I met at the upstairs gate to the business car. The business car... Let's see... They've got curtains on the windows. I saw that one woman had a blanket that she got from somewhere that I don't know. There's definitely more leg room. Seats... I don't think they're wider, but there's no middle armrest between them. There are fold-down foot rests built into the backs of the seats. The heat was turned up pretty high compared to other cars I'd walked thru to get to this one. And once we were rolling, a conductor stood in front of the car and took a poll by applause to find out if the temp was too hot, not hot enough, comfortable, or uncomfortable. Called to mind the SEINFELD episode about first class seating on the airplane, heh. Oh, also, complimentary drinks from the cafe car with your biz class ticket stub. If it's soda, you only get those little half cans, but hey, "free," right? I think the scrolling marquee thingie is a bit suped up compared to the regular cars'. It's got animated type and muti-colors. I haven't watched a whole cycle of messaging, but it's got a "don't drink and drive" message in there, along with a "customize your own message" message...? Is this a test loop? Haha, it must be. "Introducing Beta Brite" Random.

Y'know, I think the coach cars may only have backlit signs telling you "no smoking" and which end of the car the restroom is located. Poor coach bastards.

And I just heard a conductor tell another passenger that we'd hit Boston around 10.15. Feck. No CASABLANCA for me. And I told my parents that that's what I was looking forward to once I got back tonight. I always figured, factoring in holiday travel, there was a very real chance I'd miss the 9.45 show, but, feckall, this isn't holiday travel... this is... this is... a holiday comedy of errors. A poo-filled diaper. Bleah.


Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, November 24, 2005

See "Gorgeous..." at the Brattle! : P

As the houselights were dimming before the THUMBSUCKER and SERENITY screenings, I felt obliged to whisper a warning to my friends that the worst part of the show would be hitting them in just a minute - the pre-show commercial for Jaguar - "Gorgeous." While I don't WISH the experience on any of you, I do hope you end up seeing it, cuz that will mean that you were at the Brattle catching a movie! =)

At the first SERENITY screening on Sunday the commercial's finale prompted a burst of applause and some hooting. =)

The ad is a montage, a frickin long one, of soft-focus glamour-and-money-at-play scenarios mixed in with cool angle shots and close-ups of Jaguar automobiles, and over it all, a man's voice reading what seems to be an open-mic-at-a-coffeehouse-without-irony poem entitled "Gorgeous..."

As he enlightens you on how much Gorgeous doesn't suck...

"Gorgeous never has to apologize..."
"Gorgeous looks great in the morning..."
"Gorgeous trumps... Everything..." *

...in slow motion and something like sepia tones, you see a girl in a bikini running on a beach, a sunglassed smartly dressed woman looking at camera as she passes in her Jaguar convertible, a prettyboy being shoved backward off the edge of something (presumably into a pool, but perhaps into a dry well) by another bikini'd waif...

There's one longer scene within the montage that follows a stylish couple getting out of their Jag in front of their friend's mansion, mounting the stairs, greeted in the foyer by their country club buddies, ushered into the candle-lit dining hall, where they glad-hand, embrace, and cheek-kiss, and then unwind with some wine before dinner, discussing their investments, their new yachts, the quality and quantity of the many souls they've stolen or destroyed that week, before sitting down to dine on peasant. Not pheasant. Peasant.

"Gorgeous...gets in everywhere..." *

Like dirt, or cockroaches? Or like sand on Tatooine?

I've got no bone to pick w Jaguar, the company or their products, and I am definitely pleased to see a high-profile brand choosing to advertise at the Brattle. I just wish they'd had something a little less... "You are my base" to screen, y'know?

I wonder if Jag would have a problem if the Brattle took the same voiceover content, but got someone else to record it for them... William Shatner? Christopher Walken? Stephen Colbert? Eh, just wi$hful thinking. =)

Hrmm... maybe they could add some scratch-on-film or subtitling to the reel to enhance the experience? Cuz that dinner party thing really does look like a scene from one of the BLADE movies or DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, where long-lived evil has gone corporate and well-to-do and gets together every full moon or whatev to drink some blood, eat some employees, and play some Cranium.

I do wonder that I'm totally ignorant of the voiceover being of the work of a celebrated poet. Whatever the source, in combination with the imagery featured in the ad, it just doesn't seem like a best fit for most Brattle screenings, y'know? Although, I suppose there might be a decent case to be made for it being a pretty good palate cleanser.

Time to make the gray-vee...~
Keep on keepin on~

* I'm pretty sure I got the two asterisked lines of the voiceover correct, the other two are half-remembered half-cobbled together, but all in the same blue blooded vein.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

WATCH-A-THON update...

Since November 11, when the Watch-A-Thon kicked off, I've caught nine Brattle screenings and two non-Brattle ones. For those of you who pledged-per-movie, that's 10 movies (non-Brattle screenings count as half) in 11 days. Not my best time, but not a bad pace for the first leg, y'know?

Friday, 11/11

Saturday, 11/12
A MAN ESCAPED, dir Robert Bresson, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon

Sunday, 11/13
PONETTE, dir Jacques Doillon, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon

Monday, 11/14
LA PURITAINE, dir Jacques Doillon, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon
MON ONCLE, dir Jacques Tati, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon

Wednesday, 11/16
RAJA, dir Jacques Doillon, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon
A MAN ESCAPED*, dir Robert Bresson, Brattle series - The Films of Jacques Doillon

Friday, 11/18
THUMBSUCKER, Brattle series - Recent Raves

Sunday, 11/20
SERENITY, Brattle series - Recent Raves
SERENITY**, Brattle series - Recent Raves

* When I went in for RAJA, I was a coin-flip away from committing to A MAN ESCAPED again. Mother Nature decided it for me when she delivered a torrential downpour at the end of RAJA. ESCAPED turns out to be a very good bit of meditation on film for a rainy night. A scoop of Toscanini's ice cream didn't hurt none, neither. =)

** That's right, twice in the same day. Damn good movie! SEE IT! =) Alas, big screen options are now unlikely except perhaps at second-run venues, but retailers are already taking pre-orders for the gor-am DVD, available in time for Santa to deliver.

Keep on keepin on~

See CASABLANCA over Thanksgiving!

The Brattle's next repertory series - Give Thanks for Bogie! - kicks off with three days of screenings of CASABLANCA! DO check it out if you're in town and Boston-local over the holiday long weekend. You can't get out of it by saying you've only seen it on video. You really do have to give the big screen experience a try. It's a great date movie (or so I hear... or at least, imagine...), and would make for a great tryptophantastic event. Checking it out at a Brattle screening, you've got a decent chance of reaching cinematic nirvana, sitting in a darkened room with an audience of Brattle irregulars and Bogie fans who hang on every look, line, and scene of the movie. Ladies, I advise you not to forget your tissues, you may need to wipe away some tears... from your beau's eyes. =)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Caught THUMBSUCKER Friday night and totally enjoyed it. Got to see it w a good crew, too - Jacky, Yuko, and Rowan. Since I couldn't motivate anyone to hit BROKEN FLOWERS, we had the time to hit the Border for some dindins. Love those chips!

I wasn't thinking "high school" movie going into it, but it definitely fits the niche for me. The expected indie-ness as well as the noteworthy cast, being skewed to the adult end of the scale, kinda threw me off, y'know? Not that the teenaged thespians aren't noteworthy, they just weren't the big names or famous faces. The kid who plays Justin, the THUMBSUCKER, is a perfect awkward outsider teen. Depending on his situation he can draw on some Wiley Wiggins, some mealy-mouthed FREAKS & GEEKS Sam, in both stammering and righteous flavors (now the minion chef on KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL), and even some scheming Parker Lewis.

Justin is making his misfit way through his last year of high school and next year hopes to escape to a college as far away from home as possible. Unfortunately, until now, he's been a pretty mediocre student, and his options are pretty limited. If only he could belong, be better adjusted, fit in somewhere, then things would fall into place. He'd be able to concentrate on what needs doing, improving his grades, focusing on his studies, and perhaps the debate team, instead of getting all muddled up by his anxiety over socializing. The only thing that keeps this anxiety at bay is his habit of thumbsucking, which he's done since childhood. His father insists, and his orthodontist recommends, that he quit this habit as soon as possible. And he WANTS to, but he just doesn't know how. In his quest to find a "cure," he uncovers all manner of misfits, among his family, friends, and teachers, who have their own versions of "thumbsucking," their own issues and secrets.

These misfits are played quite cooly by an excellent cast. Vincent D'onofrio is Justin's dad, the high school football star robbed of pro glory by an injury. He's now doing a half-assed job of figuring out fatherhood, and now, marriage, trying to apply his football-isms ("tough it out!") to life's challenges every chance he gets. In his mind, Justin, his thumbsucking son, is a constant reminder of how they fall short.

Tilda Swinton is the caregiving wife and mom. With both her children in stages of life where they don't need her so much, she finds herself a bit lost, adrift, without focus. Looking for a distraction, she finds it in a sweepstakes contest to win a date with cheezy cop show star Matt Schadd... or Scradd... or Shradd, can't rightly recall. She tells Justin it's just a bit of fun, but she still feels the need to keep it on the down low around her husband.

Benjamin Bratt plays the aforementioned hollywood star, whom Justin actually gets to meet by chance. When he does, he discovers that superstar Matt is just as screwed up as everyone else. Probably even more so.

Vince Vaughn is Justin's debate coach. I don't think I need to say anymore, do I?

Keanu Reeves as Justin's new agey orthodontist is so very much fun. He's genuinely concerned about Justin's well-being, and attempts to help him in his new agey way, but Justin feels that it backfires, and is not exactly grateful for it. When he seeks a kind of payback, he starts a sort of pendulum swinging between the two of them. The two characters swing thru each other's lives for short moments throughout the film, the longest being the length of a check-up, but in their brief encounters, each one profoundly affects the other. Prepare yourself for some excellently delivered schizo jaded/zen philosophy from The One.

A couple more notes on the younger end of the cast spectrum... Justin's little brother gets to say a couple of the most perfect things. Pay attention. The actress that plays Justin's young activist muse reminds me of a less ducky Mena Suvari. That's a good thing.

This would be a very interesting double feature with NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Granted, anything would probably be made better with some NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, but I mean that I think there'd be some real resonance between these two flicks.

Allright, enough early a.m. rambling for now.

Keep on keepin on~

The best thing I ever heard:
"When you're feeling scared or lonely, I want you to call your power animal..."
--- Justin's orthodontist, played by Keanu Reeves, THUMBSUCKER

Friday, November 18, 2005


Y'know, if this was any other November 18, I'd be super keen on catching an opening night HARRY POTTER show, but what with the Brattle in need and me being in mid-'thon and all, I'm gonna wait on the GOBLET and instead, Brattle it up w one, maybe two, "Recent Raves." You should check them out!

BROKEN FLOWERS plays at 7.30 and THUMBSUCKER screens at 9.45. Together they're a double feature, so if you've got the stamina, one ticket will get you both shows. I've seen FLOWERS and HIGHLY recommend if you can stand some slightly indie-artsy camera work with your bittersweet Bill Murray. I missed THUMBSUCKER when it was new and playing at the f/artsy Kendall, so I'm definitely catching that. I'm on the fence about BROKEN FLOWERS.

There's also a midnight screening of a local indie picture, PONY TROUBLE, that sounds like a lot of fun. If you're into the local indie music scene, do check out the Brattle's blurb for the roll call of local talent involved with this zany flick.

THUMBSUCKER's about a boy on that cusp between high school and the wider world of college, who in all of his 17 years of living has been unable to shake the habit of sucking his thumb. This is the obvious crisis that his family, teachers, and random acquaintances try to help him deal with, but each of these people in turn are in need of help themselves, walking around with their own, not-so-obvious versions of thumbsucking. Everyone wants to be "normal," right? The movie's got an excellent cast (Tilda "White Witch" Swinton, Vincent "Pooh Bear" D'Onofrio) assigned to some promisingly eccentric roles. I mean, Keanu Reeves as a new-age orthodontist, and Vince Vaughn as the thumbsucker's high school debate coach! C'mon!

If anyone wants company for the double feature, or different people want to do one or the other, I'll happily sit thru both while people tag in and out around me. =)

BROKEN FLOWERS is a Jim Jarmusch film, and definitely feels like one. He's the fellow what directed GHOST DOG (when a good Samaritan saves a young street kid from a serious beating, the kid decides to serve his benefactor as a modern samurai warrior, a trained killer who lives by the samurai code), NIGHT ON EARTH (one night, four taxi cabs, four different time zones), and MYSTERY TRAIN (Elvis haunts a Memphis hotel with an eclectic clientele) - all good crack I highly recommend. He's also the director behind COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, but I can't vouch for that personally as I haven't seen it (I'll bet it's very fun, tho =).

FLOWERS is Jarmusch's take on a noir film, with Bill Murray as the jaded hard-boiled detective, armed with a bouquet of flowers, not a pistol, on the trail of a very personal McGuffin, not a statuette hiding microfilm or a briefcase of royal jewels, but the son he didn't know he had... or maybe, it's love... or happiness... I don't know, you'll have to see it and tell me. The Jarmusch pace is a bit slow compared to your typical googleplex cinema fare. The camera lingers on things, just off center from the action sometimes, but for me, never without purpose. Sometimes it's for irony, other times for humor, and still others for some bit of pain or loneliness to register.

Frack. Maybe I DO need to see BOTH of these movies...

And so do YOU! Check them out if you can. And if you're looking for company for either or both, do let me know. You might be able to twist my arm. =) The theater's in Harvard Square, so there's Square fare for food/drink options to mix into a movie night. Border Cafe (which I love, but should be got to on a Friday on the early side of the evening), Cambridge 1, Grafton Street, and John Harvard's are a few likely crowd-pleasing options.

I'm just sayin' =)

Keep on keepin on~

smartin' cheek & Wednesday movies update...

Dagnabbit. Just as I was starting to feel comfortable in my bottom left - or should that be left bottom? - I had to go and crash-land on it again at volleyball tonight! Frack, that smarts. Still, gettin down to get that ball up resulted in a very hittable set for teammate Kathy. We won the point.

Still still, me bum hurts.

Speaking of hurting bums, I am one as well as have one. Kathy, I'm so sorry for TACKLING you at vball tonight! I had a moment to see what was about to happen and tried to catch you and not take you out, but I couldn't kill my moronic momentum. I do hope I didn't do you any lasting damage. I'm an eejit.

I was talking to Maurice earlier in the day, and I mentioned how I'd once basically gotten kicked in the face by a teammate during a play. Immediately understanding that that meant that I'd hurled myself across and onto the floor, he told me he wasn't surprised, and that seeing me play outdoors this summer, he'd caught himself saying a prayer for me more than once when I went lunging like a fool for this ball or that. "It's only one point!"

I told him I had a defective gene for self-preservation. I meant it as a joke, but I half-sit here now and I've gotta wonder...

Well, no volleyball for me for a few days now. Just hours and hours of sitting on my half-ass in the dark munching on popcorn and suckin down soda...

And again, I've gotta wonder...

Wednesday night I hit the Brattle for two more screenings. The first, RAJA, is a Doillon film. It was a bit on the long side, but on average I liked it. Unfortunately, it definitely starts stronger than it finishes. A 40-something Frenchman living on an estate in Marakesh falls hard for a 19 year old girl hired to work in his garden. He's not sure of her feelings for her, but believes he can win her over. There are some very fun situations created as the Frenchman, Frederick, tries to make his feelings known to the young woman, Raja. Neither is fluent in the other's language, so there are moments when Fred, speaking French, expresses himself very frankly, addressing Raja directly about the way she makes him feel, but Raja can only parrot parts of what he says, or reply, "Oui," with a shy smile or laugh. Other times, it's Raja who tells it like it is, and Fred who remains clueless.

It's remarkable what they can say to each other, but, y'know, not actually communicate. It reminded me of that amazing little exchange between young Mary and George by Mr. Gower's soda fountain in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Remember how George lost his hearing in one ear after falling in the ice when he was younger? Well, in this scene, George is behind the counter bent over and in front of Mary - maybe scooping some ice cream for a float? - all the while explaining his grand plans for being a great world explorer. And Mary leans into him and whispers something like... "Is this the ear you can't hear in? George Bailey, I'll love you til the day that I die." And he goes on with his world explorer spiel, none the wiser.

Goldang, I do love that. =)

Unfortunately, the loss in translation between Fred and Raja that makes for these fun, funny, and romantic unwitting monologues also allows for all kinds (a few too many) of painful misunderstandings. A series of these snowballing disconnects end up causing them both a lot of misery. Not the feel-good movie of the season, but not the most godawful rental option, y'know, if you're in the mood for a frustrating romantic drama.

When I got to the Brattle Wednesday night for RAJA I was 50-50 about sticking around for the second film, an encore of A MAN ESCAPED. Fate decided it for me when I stepped outside after RAJA into a torrential downpour. Perfect weather for a second screening of a French prison break picture, oui? Oui, indeed. Still a very well-crafted meticulous prison and escape film.

Sleepytime now.
Keep on keepin on~

The best thing I ever heard:
"What the hell? They let Sarah Jessica Parker's face on TV and she looks like a FOOT!"
--- Peter Griffin, FAMILY GUY

Thursday, November 17, 2005

frickin frackin...

Damn CVS and their priced-to-clear post-Halloween chocolatey items!

So frickin zit-rageous now - bleah! : P

Go see SERENITY Sunday & Monday!

Attention, people of Earth...

SERENITY's playing at the Brattle this coming Sunday and Monday evening (10p) and I aim to misbehave...

I've pitched these screenings to several people already in person and via email, and at this point have no idea how many different shows I might have committed myself to, but I shall reschedule my tee time with the Space Pope and my afternoon tea with Elvis and Bigfoot to make myself available to go to any and all screenings anyone would like to check SERENITY out. =)

I do love this movie -PLUS- every show counts towards the Watch-A-Thon total! =)

Do NOT feel obligated to team up with me to see this show, or compelled to join in any group that forms around my emails. DO feel obligated to SEE THIS MOVIE WHENEVER AND WITH WHOMEVER YOU LIKE =) CUZ I AM TELLING YOU THAT IS SOME GOOD $HIT RIGHT THERE THAT IS.

Let me know if you'd like to go with, tho. =)

SERENITY is the sci-fi adventure movie capstone to the excellent but greedtarded-Fox-exec-cancelled series FIREFLY, created by Joss Whedon, of BUFFY, ANGEL, and ASTONISHING X-MEN fame. However, you do NOT need to have soaked in all the TV series goodness to appreciate the film. It stands solidly on its own as a moving, well-paced story set in a wonderfully eclectic future populated with the most colorful and thoughtfully written and played characters who are driven by the most familiar desires and ideals. Whew, that was a mouthful, even typed out.

If you've got the time and access, tho, I recommend watching the pilot of the series available on the first DVD of the FIREFLY collection. It is NOT necessary, but it'll be a good bit of conditioning for you before hittin the hard stuff. I managed to get a small posse together for a screening when SERENITY was in theaters. There was one other fan and three or four un-prepped newbies to the FIREFLY 'verse, and they all came away more than satisfied.

ALSO - I just did a quick scan ahead on the SciFi channel's schedule. This Friday evening at 7pm it looks like they're playing the first half of the 2-part pilot. That's kind of frustrating, but it'll give you a taste for the show. ALSO ALSO - It looks like SciFi will be playing solid 4-hour blocks of FIREFLY this coming Tuesday and Wednesday nights, from 7-11pm! Set your Tivos/ReplayTVs/DVRs accordingly!

To those of you who might not be fans of mystery, action, and romance where space-anything is involved, this is not sci-fi for sci-fi's sake. This is not about a checklist of a plot as an excuse to put a few B actors in some futuristic costumes and crazy hairdos and let a team of CG animators and effects wizards flex their muscles. This is about telling the story of decent people caught in a crappy situation, doing the best that they can to survive, without compromising their beliefs, and all the while, delivering some damn snappy dialogue. They just happen to live on a spaceship is all. Good swashbuckling fun! =)

Sorry, I can really be an idiot about the things I like. I've gone on quite a bit and haven't given up a decent frickin synopsis! Sometimes I get too close or enthusiastic about a bit of pop culture or flash I adore and forget how to describe it in a sensible way that adult human beings without telepathic abilities might understand.

SERENITY is set 500 some-odd years in a future in which humanity has spread itself throughout the galaxy, terraforming and colonizing planets in system after system, constantly expanding. The central worlds, considered the most civilized, have joined together to create a federation government called the Alliance. The constant expansion of humanity throughout the stars has created a new frontier, and creator/writer/director Joss Whedon imagines it in a retro-future manner, a space opera with old west sensibilities, a nearly lawless rim of the civilized 'verse, populated by constables and outlaws, farmers and ranchers, slave traders and bordello madames, soldiers and smugglers. Where a cargo ship is as likely to carry a herd of cattle as a gross of space toasters. It's in this space-age western frontier that the crew and passengers of Serenity live...

Ex-resistance fighter turned honorable thief, Captain Malcolm Reynolds.
His first mate and amazon badass, Zoe.
Her first (in a matrimonial way) mate and man-boy, Serenity's pilot, Wash.
Ship's mechanic and l'il darlin', Kaylee.
Mercenary for hire, long on ammo, kinda short on brains, the man they call Jayne.
Ship's medic, hailing from the civilized core of the galaxy, Dr. Simon Tam.
His troubled super genius of a sister, once the unwilling subject of Alliance science research, River Tam.
The companion with a heart of gold, Inara.
And the preacher man with the mysterious past, Shepherd Book.

They make what passes for a living on the fringe as smugglers for hire, passing themselves off as a transport ship. In the course of their travels, they find that one of their number has unwittingly discovered a closely guarded Alliance secret, turning Serenity and her crew into marks for the federation's deadliest, most ruthless assassin. Wacky fun ensues =)

There, that's sort of comprehensible, no?

Six (and change) against the galaxy! Epic space western stuff with heart, I tell you what. SEE IT! =)

Keep on keepin on,
See you in the world~
Mutant Enemy
(ARrrhhh! Arrrrh!~)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Monday movies update...

Caught this Monday night at the Brattle. This is also one of Doillon's own films. I can NOT recommend this one to anyone except a very completist fan of Doillon, or perhaps, maybe, possibly, an actor or director in training. The setup of the film is that a famous stage director has received a letter from his one-year-gone estranged daughter saying that she will return to him Sunday night at his theater. Sunday evening comes and the director gets impatient while waiting. He calls all the actresses in his troupe to the theater and has them workshop the father-daughter reunion. The daughter shows up in time to watch this from the theater shadows, and even secretly influences the performances. When she finally reveals herself to her father, the actual reunion is nothing like the rehearsals.

The setup's not bad, really, but the execution is nothing but aggravating, monotonous, and pretentious. It MIGHT have made a much better short film.

At least it counts as one more movie watched in the 'thon. =)

God, this was a super sweet film to watch, and just plain WONDERFUL after THE PURITAN - a perfect cure for it, really. It's a Jacques Tati film, directed by and starring, as his signature character, Monsieur Hulot, a simple kind-hearted every(French)man sporting a trench coat, hat, and pipe. In this film he is the uncle to the son of a successful factory administrator. While Hulot certainly seems quite content with his daily routine, living in a modest apartment, passing the time wandering the streets of his French hometown (is it Paris?), and playing and looking out for his nephew, his sister and brother-in-law believe he needs purpose and focus. To this end, they wangle him a job at the plastic hose factory. On his first day at work, he starts by inadvertently lets a pack of dogs into the building, and finishes by nearly destroying the factory.

There's much more to the movie than just this little bit of plotting. The camera meanders a lot between scenes that actually pertain to this storyline. Hulot leaves his apartment and cycles thru neighborhoods and marketplaces to get to his sister's ultra-modern automated home, and the camera takes its time and lingers in the in-between spaces, following a street-sweeper who doesn't sweep all that much, a grocer whose scale measures everything heavy because his truck is tilted to one side, a gang of little rascals whose greatest joy is to trick passersby into knocking themselves out. Little slices of life that you can't help but smile at.

It's all so damn charming!

It's sort of a strange comparison to describe a film, but visually every scene in this movie looks like it might have come from an elementary school foreign language (probably French =) textbook.

The antics of M. Hulot, and all of the inhabitants of Tati's French town, remind me of Chaplin and Keaton whimsy. Maybe not as physically challenging, though.

Also, there are cute rambunctuous doggies everywhere!

Looking beyond the plain fun of every little thing, the movie definitely looks sourly on modernism, as pictured in the 50s-60s. It frowns on the rigid structure, hailed to be superior and desirable, promised by the mechanized and automated future, at home and in the workplace, portraying it as soulless, dehumanizing, and nonsensical.

Whoa, pretty deepish thinking there for 3.30am. Frack. This is another bit of evening volleyball induced non-somnia. I should wrap this up and turn out the lights and stare at the ceiling until my glow-in-the-dark night sky stickers turn into hallucinated radiating spots before my eyes.

But just before I do - the 'thon list so far...
Note that by the rules of the Watch-A-Thon, non-Brattle films are worth half a screening, so I've got 5 down right now, not 6.

1. HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, 11/11 @Capitol Theater in Arlington.
2. A MAN ESCAPED, 11/12 @Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.
4. PONETTE, 11/13 @Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.
5. LA PURITAINE, 11/14 @Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.
6. MON ONCLE, 11/14 @Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sunday movies update...

Haven't got the time just now for my rambling reviews, so I'm gonna try and keep them short. You KNOW that's not easy for me, heh.

Overall, Sunday was a great day for brian-movies relations. I got my hands on a collection of Wong Kar Wai DVDs and got to see two excellent films on the big screen.

Brilliant! Hilariously satisfying for all ages (provided you're not so "mature" that you can't adore clay characters with British accents)! Nick Park and the Aardman animation team deliver so many great stop-motion animated action scenes, along with great characterization, it's just, well, frickin brilliant. There is so much thoughtful cinematography in here, and every frame of the picture is so rich with detail AND entertainment (try to catch all the headlines in the newspapers you see at the breakfast table =). I don't know the who's who of their voice talent, but I imagine it must've been a real event having Wallace doing double entendre dialogue with Helena Bonham Carter. Too fun =)

And a bonus, at least at the screening I caught at Fenway - A holiday short starring the MADAGASCAR penguins (alas, can't remember the title). I hafta say they were the best part of the movie for me, and they are great in this little, very action-packed short.

This is one of Doillon's own films in the Cahiers Du Cinema series at the Brattle. It's a sweet, remarkable movie about a 5 year old girl coming to terms with the sudden passing of her mother. Through interactions with her father, her aunt, her teachers, but mostly, her very knowledgeable peers, she struggles to learn what it means that her mother has died, and how she might be able to see and be with her again. Except for a few adults, the cast of main characters is all 4 and 5 year old children and the performances Doillon gets out of them are really amazing.

Allright, I gotta motor now to get myself to volleyball this evening. Thanks for reading and sponsoring!
Keep on keepin on~

Monday, November 14, 2005

Some things I noticed last week...

Just a quick not-so-movie-oriented post while digesting some McLunch. My "INSTANT WIN/ GANA AL INSTANTE" Monopoly game pieces expire today, donchaknow. Just wanted to jot some things I observed and turned over in my head this past week in those in-between moments, commuting between home, work, and the movies...

The holiday lights in Downtown Crossing were up last Monday night. I didn't notice them walking in in the morning, in the daylight, but walking out, they were all lit up, blue and white lights weaved into a star shaped pattern through a net that's stretched across the street between buildings on Temple Place and Winter Street and a couple other avenues down here near the Common. It's purrty.

It's funny. I totally do not remember looking up to see or at all notice the un-lit net of lights on my walk in this morning.

For weeks on the walk to the T stop in Cambridge I've seen this orange rectangle sticker on the back of a PERMIT PARKING or STREET CLEANING sign or something like that, announcing that I should help "Save The White Race!" However, on my walk to the T last Monday I saw that it had been scraped off (by some hater, no doubt) or perhaps rained away over the weekend. Too bad. I figured, stickered up in a Cambridge neighborhood, it might attract the attention of some eco-minded environmentalist type and maybe the stickerer and the activist could work together to bolster the endangered species act!

On the walk to dimsum Saturday morning there were guys in "cherry-picker" trucks running cables through the trees in the Boston Common. Although I couldn't see the lights in the branches then, I guessed that they must've been doing the holiday lights for the park. Y'know, those ones that always look kind of lazily done? Lit up, they come off looking like the trees have got dreadlocks w lights weaved into them. Y'know, the dreaded trees probably look pretty neat from the air, like stars or pointy flowers. To my eye, though, from the sidewalk level, they always seem a bit half done.

This morning I saw that someone had taken what looked like a ballpoint pen and filled in some missing letters in a smartly vandalized "ELEVATOR" sign on the T platform. A While back, sometime in September, maybe, I noticed that letters were being scraped off of one of the signs. After a week or so, it had been transformed into "EL VATO."

Heh. Letter-Man and his varsity sweater would be proud! Although, technically, I don't think he ever just removed letters. He always added or replaced letters in a word to save the day. Like when that evil little magician would wave his wand and turn the JAM in the cupboard to CLAM *shudder* and a kid wouldn't be able to make any sandwiches, cuz who the heck wants clam on bread, right? Letter-Man to the rescue! He shows up on the scene, removes the letter from his varsity sweater, and turns the CLAM... into HAM! Ham sandwiches for everyone! Hooray!

I just made that one up. Alas, my perforated memory doesn't seem to retain a specific word crisis from the show. Sad.

Anyhow - more on movie-watching and movies watched soon. Hoping to catch another Doillon flick and Doillon inspiration tonight.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A MAN ESCAPED @The Brattle Theatre

Today I caught a matinee of A MAN ESCAPED, part of the Films of Jacques Doillon series currently running at the Brattle. The "Films of Jacques Doillon" includes a retrospective of the director's work, but also screens favorite film influences selected by the director. ESCAPED is one of the latter, directed by Robert Bresson.

The story is based on the memoir of French resistance fighter Andre Devigny, captured and imprisoned in a Nazi-run prison camp in Lyons, France in the 1940s. It is a prison break story, and although you'll recognize the now-classic trappings of such stories, the movie is certainly not the action-packed thriller Hollywood would churn out today. This movie, with its stark settings and uncomfortable, claustrophobic shots, puts the audience in the prison with Fontaine (the adapted Devigny character).

For weeks of his time, we experience with Fontaine the isolation, the claustrophobia, the deadening, maddening repetition of the structured life of a prisoner. In voiceover we hear Fontaine's actual thoughts as he lies through his teeth to his jailers. We see the enforced monotony of prison existence take its toll on some fellow prisoners, even as Fontaine works at instilling hope in others. When he discovers a possible weak point in his prison, he begins to plot his escape. Getting out of his 9' x 6' cell is only the beginning, though. There are patrols to dodge and interior and exterior walls to fly over. Over time, he collects all the materials and fashions all the tools he will need to overcome these obstacles, and through the movie we experience the time, effort, and risks involved. We live the weeks required to complete his work in secrecy. We feel the fear that rises in Fontaine when guards suddenly seem to take an extra interest in him, and when his fellow prisoners seem to resent him, and begin gossiping about him. We experience his growing hope as each day's careful work brings Fontaine just a little closer to freedom... But it's when all seems finally ready that fate and character begin to meddle with his well-laid plans... Perhaps imprisonment is succeeding in chipping away at his resolve, for once he has everything he needs, he hesitates, time and time again. On top of this second-guessing, he must deal with a new cellmate, a young man of questionable loyalty. Can he be trusted?

You'll have to watch the movie to find out. It is slow compared to the likes of ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ and Fox's PRISON BREAK, but its pace is deliberate, and in conjunction with the camera work executed in the tight spaces of the prison, serves to immerse us in Fontaine's bleak prison existence. Against this stark backdrop, every little act of resistance, every bit of dread of discovery or betrayal, and every look one prisoner gives another becomes that much more accented and powerful.

I really wanted to stay to catch PETITS FRERES, a Doillon film that tells a warped Snow White story about a tough 13 year old girl who falls in with a gang of boys in suburban Paris. This screening was going to be followed by a discussion led by the director, touching on the current rioting by youths in France, much of it begun in the suburbs shown in this film. Incredibly disappointing to miss this, but at the end of ESCAPED, I found myself beginning to have to fight the sandman to focus on the subtitles of the film. My recent early a.m. skewed waking hours (which continue tonight) are taking their toll on my darkened theater screen-reading stamina. I was certain that I would end up passing out within the first half hour of a second feature, so I decided to abort. I do plan on making up for it as best I can over the next couple days.

I'm supposed to hit WALLACE AND GROMMIT tomorrow afternoon, and thinking of catching PONETTE and RENDEZ-VOUS in the evening.

My official 'thon count so far:

1. HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, 11/11 @Capitol Theater in Arlington.
2. A MAN ESCAPED, 11/12 @Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I really was planning on hitting the Brattle for LA VENGEANCE D'UNE FEMME tonight, but my friend, Nurse Jen, managed to shanghai me for a lively screening of HISTORY OF VIOLENCE at the Capitol in Arlington. Yeah, she really had to twist my arm...

I've wanted to see HISTORY since it opened. I've dug most of Cronenberg's work since I saw SCANNERS when I was a kid. Exploding heads! What's not to like? On top of that, it's a very smart movie about the rise of mutants in the human population, and done 20 years before the big screen X-MEN craze.

The prescription of a new drug to pregnant mothers-to-be in the 50s and 60s results in a percent of their offspring developing telepathic, telekinetic, and pyrokinetic abilities. I think the drug was a painkiller? I can't remember exactly. Although, I DO remember the name, Ephemerol. Y'know, I don't remember most of real and actual Chemistry and Physics from school, but I remember frickin "Ephemerol"... stupid brain. Anyhow, as adults, some of these so-called "Scanners" learn to use their talents for research and the pursuit of enlightenment. Others, who don't understand their powers, are driven mad by the uncontrollable invasion of their minds by others' thoughts. Still others train themselves to use their powers to manipulate, control, and even assassinate non-Scanners. Revok, one of the most powerful Scanners, sees himself and his brethren as a next step in human evolution, superior to normal men and women, and as such, deserving of mastery over them. The scientist who originally developed the Ephemerol that produced this generation of Scanners recruits a small group of them to challenge Revok's plans for world domination. He's just located a Scanner who could potentially rival Revok in raw talent and power. The problem is Revok's found him as well...

Sounds pretty freakin good, don't it? That's cuz it is, oh yeah! See it if you haven't, but please forgive any bit of special effects that doesn't hold its own against X-MEN or DOOM. You'll be looking at early 80s sci-fi horror.

Y'know, I'll bet Cronenberg would do an amazing job with the right superhero franchise. I wonder if he's on the short list for director of any upcoming Marvel or DC hero movie adaptations?

SCANNERS was my first introduction to Michael Ironside, who played Revok, the Magneto of the Scanner underworld. No small thing for a future fan of V: THE FINAL BATTLE, heh. Hrmmm... Has there been a sci-fi movie yet that's pit Michael Ironside against Lance Henricksen? That would be like a B-movie HEAT, y'know?

SCANNERS was also my first contemporary encounter with Patrick McGoohan, as the scientist creator of Ephemerol. Until then I only knew McGoohan as the wily and mod-ly dashing Number Six, forever escaping The Island of THE PRISONER. He was super-coolness. Okay, let's flash-forward twenty-some years and get back to where we started...

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. A solid and original little story. I didn't know it was based on a graphic novel until I was sitting in the theater and the opening "based on" credit blipped by. I can totally imagine this being a great graphic novel read. I'm definitely looking it up next time I hit New England Comics. On screen tonight, though, I hafta say it was a bit slow. The things is, that notion may have been amplified by the zoo animals with whom Nurse Jen and I shared the theater.

I can't say it was unexpected, really. Friday night at the movies in Arlington, you have to know you'll get a mix of high school kids, empty nest couples, and sewing circles, along with a collection of frugal young hipsters, and of course, that quiet guy, y'know? Keeps mostly to himself? That guy. Well, tonight's particular mix included some extra giggly teens, several of that hard-of-hearing guy, asking his spouse "What?" every five minutes to have her repeat the last line of dialogue, one fellow who doesn't seem to have an indoor voice, much less a whisper, and a whole herd of idiots who don't know how to kill the Bach and Beethoven ringers on their cell phones. Oh, also, one woman off to our right who kept flipping open her brightly backlit phone, presumably to check the time. I can tell you what time it is, lady... It's one frickin minute after the last time you checked! Grah!

In general there was a LOT of chatter and movement among the crowd. Unless someone is actually holding a conversation on his/her cell phone while a movie is playing, I can usually let stuff slide, sure, sometimes with a not-so-under-my-breath, "Putz," or, "Toolbox," but that can't be helped, right? This bunch was ridiculous. There were two shows in that one room, the movie on the screen, and the ADD menagerie in the seats.

So, it may be that my impression of the movie's pace as slow is dilated by the exasperating spazzy behavior of the audience. Allright, forget about the pace issue, and I hafta say that Viggo and Ed Harris are excellent in their roles. Viggo as Tom Stall, the victim of mistaken identity, and Harris as, Fogarty , the evil, creepy, mob killer who's got it in for him, or at least, the him he believes he is. One night, when Tom Stall is closing up his Main Street diner in a quiet Indiana berg, two Bad men come in for some coffee and pie. When they draw weapons and threaten to kill Stall's staff and customers, Tom turns the tables on them in an incredible adrenline-fueled act of self-defense and protection. His celebrity as a local hero gets him noticed by some dangerous men who believe they recognize him as one of their own, long gone missing. Fogarty is sent to bring him back into the fold. Wacky fun ensues!

Oh, William Hurt, as Fogarty's boss, Cusack, is quirkily brilliant in the short bit of time he has on screen.

I've gotta say, coming off of yesterday's early morning recap of the Brattle samurai series, this movie does seem a bit like an updated model of a kind of samurai flick, or maybe more of a western, given the small Indiana town setting.

Maria Bello makes a fine Mrs. Stall, a wife, mother, and partner you want to protect. I know, I know, that's all fine and good, but you've got another, much more important question on your mind, right? Well, the answer is yes. Yes, she DOES get naked in this movie, too... again... once more. I'm sure it's gotta be some kind of plus for a film to get an actress who's comfortable in the buff, but I can't help but think that extra asterisked line in the resume of an actress is there to shore up a substandard commitment to acting, y'know? The thing is, in this case, Bello is a pretty sharp actress. She's no Amanda Peet, who often seems to go starkers INSTEAD of acting.

I suppose it's the R rating at work, aligned with marketing and buzz. If your film lands definitively in R territory based on content like violence, horror, language, or drug use, you might as well hit all the R cylinders and throw in some skin. At least there's something here for the girls, too. Oh, did you not hear? That's right, ladies, you get some primo Mortensen bumcake in this picture. Viggo's bare bottom, donchaknow. Aragorn's backside. If you can stand the violence, seeing chunks of flesh blown away by gunfire, this really is an equal opportunity date movie treat! =)

Stall's son Jack has a little story of his own moving in parallel with his pop's. He's navigating the hellhole of high school as the classic scrawny smart kid, harrassed relentlessly by the jock king. He does his best to keep his head down and defuse confrontations with some quick thinking and fast talking. Scenes from his THREE O'CLOCK HIGH trials do a good job of cutting the intensity of the Tom-v-mobsters situation with angsty teenage scenarios.

*** SPOILERISH NOTE - Skip this paragraph if you don't want to read a hint of a spoiler! *** There's also a damn satisfying bit of cathartic action in the high school story. Damn satisfying!

Watch yourself when you watch this movie. Try to figure out what you're feeling and why when violence erupts on the screen. Listen to your reaction and those of others around you. If this was set in some other time, dressed up in the bits of a genre film, a western or Chicago gangland, it might not matter so much. But from one act to the next in this movie, the violence is blended for different flavors, and it's... interesting... to note what gets your blood pumping and what turns your stomach.

Speakin of stomach, it's pushing on past 2 and a half now. I should get some Z's soon as I've gotta be up in time to meet peeps for some early brunching in Chinatown. In the afternoon I'll hit one of the Doillon films at the Brattle. I may not get around to a write-up of it for a while, though, as my Saturday evening will be spent at my friend Keri's "Martini Madness" cocktail party. Gotta remember to print out and pocket a pledge form before I head over there, heh. Don't drink and pledge $5-a-movie with brian doing the watching!

Thanks to everyone who has donated to the Brattle Film Foundation so far! And special thanks to Charles Laquidara, Joshua, and Kim for working their connections to spread the good Brattle word!

Keep on keepin on~

Friday, November 11, 2005

Watch-A-Thon, Starting Line...

The Brattle Movie Watch-A-Thon starts tomorrow! Well, actually, I suppose it's already started, it being after midnight and all. Someone somewhere COULD be at a midnight preview of something or other and already on the way. Whatev. I'll bide my time, keep my pace, and then, when everyone else is spent, I'll explode like... like... ummm... like a can of soda in the freezer!

Which reminds me, I really should defrost and clean up that mess.

My October training journal...

I've been pretty diligent about training for this, but I hafta admit I'm a little concerned about the real thing. Practice and training can only prepare you for so much.

I can just imagine... I'm in movie number 14, at just about minute 100 of my second SERENITY screening of the day, when I find myself caught in the middle seat of a packed row in the mezzanine and my bladder anxiously informs me that ordering that second large diet coke to go with that medium bucket of popcorn (no butter, but salted in the middle and on top) was a bit overly ambitious... the kickass finale in Mr. Universe's complex is just getting started! What do I do? What. Do. I. Do?

Of course I KNOW - we ALL know - what my training TELLS me I do. Piss myself and keep watching. But when faced with the cold, harsh... actually, scratch that, it's more like... the warm, irritating reality of the situation...?

Oh, I can't think like that. I mustn't. I'm just psyching myself out. Deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath. Okay. I'm allright. I'm allright.

Originally I was hoping to make THREE... EXTREMES the first movie in my 'thon, but the frickin frackin f/artsy Kendall Square cinema unloaded it this week, bleah. I checked their website last week and there was no "last week!" message next to the movie's blurb, carnsarnit. I just assumed that meant it would be around another week. I should've known better. It's great that THREE got some real distribution (Lions Gate, I think?) but what good is it if theaters only keep it on their screens for two weeks?

So, unless Joe talks me into catching a mainstream matinee at the Boston Common theater tomorrow, it looks like one of the Jacques Doillon films will be first. LA VENGEANCE D'UNE FEMME. A "chamber drama" that "explores the often-painful way in which people emotionally torture themselves and others as they search for personal fulfillment." Sounds like the French LAKE PLACID, no?

Over foods and drinks after volleyball tonight I recommended DROWNING MONA to Kristin, who was looking to break a run of crappy movie rental selections. She mentioned how much she digs OFFICE SPACE and PRINCESS BRIDE and the BBC series THE OFFICE and MONA came to mind first. Not exactly the most obvious leap, but that's what I came up with. I think MONA's a hugely underrated or unnoticed comedy w an amazing cast - William Fichtner, Casey Affleck, Danny Devito, Jamie Lee Curtis - having some fun w their straight and outrageous roles.

Hrmmm...Maybe I'll see about coming up w some alternate/additional suggestions in case MONA doesn't quite tickle her funny bone.

It's kinda too bad that I had volleyball tonight. Not that it wasn't fun, cuz Thursday 4's are consistently the best regular night of ball. It's just that the Brattle screened THE SEVEN SAMURAI tonight. I've seen it two or three times at the Brattle in the past, but tonight's was a fundraising screening, as well as the closing film of the samurai film series they were running. I saw every film I could in that series this week.

Sunday night was a double feature of YOJIMBO and SANJURO, which I'm pretty sure I've done twice in the past at the Brattle as well. For me, these movies tell the origin story of the drifter archetype, in the character of Toshiro Mifune's wandering samurai. This is a model for all the INCREDIBLE HULKs, FUGITIVEs, PRETENDERs, QUANTUM LEAPs, and even A-TEAMs that we get sucked into. Decent guy stumbles into an F'd up situation, uses his talents and know-how to set things right, all the while following a code of honor and behavior, and moves on. And, gawldang! but Akira Kurasawa with Toshiro Mifune can do some incredible storytelling. I do believe that these are the two movies that inspired the Eastwood spaghetti westerns, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and they are chock full of perfect characters, familiar and entertaining personalities and types. When I came out of the theater after that double feature I decided I need those movies, and now that I think about it, probably the two western adaptations too. Good crack.

Monday night was THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI. The Brattle blurb has it in all caps that it's NOT ON VIDEO, so I'm damn glad I caught this one. The wandering samurai Shiba discovers a lady's decorated hairpin in a field next to a mill, prompting him to investigate the mill itself as a possible shelter for the evening. Inside, he discovers three peasant farmers holding their master's daughter hostage. They seek an audience with some higher lord to report the master's unfair taxing and treatment of the farmers. The samurai spends the night in their company and is moved by their plight. When daylight comes, he joins their cause. In the course of several encounters with mercenaries hired by the master, Tanba ends up recruiting two more samurai to help protect the farmers. One of these is a fellow wanderer, Sakura, who lived as a farmer before picking up the sword. The other is, Kikyo, the master's favorite swordsman, who finds he cannot continue to accept his comfortable life under the master's roof if it is paid for with the dishonorable treatment of the peasants and other samurai. When he fights side by side for the first time with Shiba, in a running melee against an army of the master's swords-for-hire, he turns to Shiba in a lull in the fighting, and shouts at him, "I like you!"

That's some good $hit right there, that is.

When it DOES make it to video, I will be picking that one up. Definitely.

Wow. Just thought of another movie to recommend to Kristin. TAMPOPO. It came to mind for the first time in years recently when someone asked about what rules there are for eating noodles. What a crazy set-up of a question for TAMPOPO, right? It must've been over late night eats at Shabu-zen, after seeing KISS KISS BANG BANG. There were many noodles to be consumed, and only spoons and chopsticks available to help. No one at the table had heard of the movie. That was a little bit sad to realize, but hey, maybe that's why I was there. To let them know about it. It's a noodle western, complete with cowboy hat topped good guy/master. It's part Monty Python, part genre-bender, applying the familiar cinematic structure and pacing of martial arts training and combat to the cooking and presentation of noodles. I know it sounds crazy, and it is, but it's so damn entertaining, funny, and visually, stunning. Also in one scene, outdoes 9 1/2 weeks for lusty and erotic applications of foodstuffs. Gotta add that one to my list as well.

Frack, 3.30am? This always happens on volleyball nights. Playing ball in the evening mucks w my metabolism. I'm already prone to night owl-ness, but this extends my late night restlessness. Nuts. Day one of the 'thon and I'm already shootin myself in the foot. And busting my bum - literally, and specifically, my left one - on the floor tonight isn't gonna help my form any either. Foo.

I can't muster the words to really discuss them now, but for the record, Wednesday night I caught the double feature of SAMURAI REBELLION, brilliant Mifune samurai dad-ness, and HARAKIRI, which felt to me a bit like an old school TALES FROM THE CRYPT for ronin.

Keep on keepin on~