Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Frickin New Year

Son of a bitch. What better way to mark the tilting of the years than screening some record-skipping LOST goodness? The plan is to consume as much season 5, bulgogi, duk, and rice as possible. Big night! Woo. Hoo.

And also...

Eat it, 2009. Got a whole new year to screw up, now. Might as well get on with it...~

Happy frickin new year. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Saul Bass vs. STAR WARS

And this, too.

Just cuz. I came across these in some late late night clicking about in the past few months. Figured I'd post them here cuz the interwebz are just a bit more dependable than my memory. Just cuz.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, December 26, 2009

happy frickin holidaze

Season's greetings to you, my very special, one and only...
    (please check all that apply)
    [ ] fabulous friend
      [ ] in need
      [ ] in deed
      [ ] in exile
      [ ] in mental illness
      [ ] of a friend of a friend who was (un)lucky enough to be included with me on a mass email from a mutual friend of a friend
    [ ] talented colleague
    [ ] excellent teammate
    [ ] respected opponent
    [ ] Brattle cat
    [ ] fingertagger
    [ ] next victim
    [ ] this is going to end up unseen, unread, unchecked in your spam folder, isn't it? *sigh*
I hope the mid-winter finds you well. In this religio-capitalist-industrial-complex mandated time of giving, in honor of our relationship, which I value so highly (in the fashions you've noted above), I offer you this electronical whatzit, which I cobbled together with my very own digital digits, especially for you! It's a short, ridiculous, sorta interactive story—Enjoy!

(Beware of sound effects and excellent music.)

May the Krampus pass your door by this holiday (unless, y'know, you're into that), and best wishes for a joyful, foodful, treatful, family-and-friend-ful wrap-up of 2009, and a kickass final season of LOST!

Also, a very happy Year We Make Contact! =)

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. Thanks to JG, IP, JK, and VV ( for their QA, help, and (unwitting) contributions. =)

p.p.s. A foxy Boxing Day to all!~

p.p.p.s. Here comes Santa Claus!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Join the Brattle! =)

Become a member, renew, or give membership as a gift this month and your contribution to the Brattle Film Foundation will be doubled by a membership matching fund! *Also* get an extra FREE month of membership!

Keep on keepin on~

p.s. Santa does love the balcony seats. You might say he's mad about them.

Friday, December 04, 2009

final Watch-A-Thon count!

Please support the Unofficial Film School of Boston, the Brattle Theater—Sponsor my 2009 Watch-A-Thon! Thanks!

The watching portion of the Watch-A-Thon is now closed, having run from 11/3 thru 12/3. Fundraising continues until the "finish line" event, scheduled for 12/15, so do feel free to drop some charitable bucks on at my firstgiving page, either a flat donation or a pledge-per-movie total. Thank you for your support!

Below is the complete cinematic hit list from the past 30 days. If I've written a review/ramble for the film, the title will link to it. Otherwise/in addition, I'll try to drop a two-thumbs rating and a little summary after each now. No guarantees on how sensical they will be. I foresee lots of thumbs up (I *like* movies, can't help it) and equivocating rambling...
  1. 35 SHOTS OF RUM @Kendall Square
    Thumb up, thumb down. A split because, altho I really enjoyed it in alternately meditative and fill-in-the-blank ways, I'm afraid that most people may not appreciate it in either capacity. You're introduced to an unconventional family and spend most of the film trying to figure out how they relate. Luckily, along the way, you get to watch Paris fly by from the driver's cabin of a commuter rail.

  2. AMERICAN CASINO @the Brattle
    Thumb up, thumb down. A massive downer of a documentary survey of the recent/current subprime mortgage crisis. The film's material is consistently eye-opening—there are some great interviews with Good People who became victims of the crisis—but it could use some editing, stronger structure, to connect dots better. A personal, pop cultural observation/experience, watching the segments of the film focused on Baltimore felt like the outline of an unofficial next season of THE WIRE.

  3. AMELIA @Kendall Square
    Thumbs down. Altho Hilary disappears into her role as Amelia, and the film is educational, the movie itself is, well, pretty standard stuff.

    Thumbs up. John Krasinski's directorial debut is blessed with an excellent cast delivering some wonderful and wretched characters. Of course, they all have the advantage of working with material by David Foster Wallace. A female grad student undertakes a study into men's treatment (consistently unfair, fetishistic, and thoughtless) of women. See this with friends and in mixed company, then, discuss.

  5. ANTICHRIST @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up for some beautiful creepiness. One one level, this is a luscious version of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, with a streak of harsh misogyny. On another level, it is a retelling of man's fall from grace. Try not to fall for that first level, cuz it is pretty hateful and ghastly.

  6. WELCOME TO ACADEMIA @the Brattle
    Thumbs down. About the politicking among faculty and students when the dean of a liberal arts college is ousted and replaced by the last guy who wants the job. Saw this at a pre-release screening and unless they've got a lot of additional footage, I don't see this being released in a satisfactory form. It tries to be too many things and in the end fails at just about all of them. Sad, cuz it's got a pretty powerful cast for a smart comic drama.

  7. COCO BEFORE CHANEL @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up. The story of Coco Chanel, with Audrey Tautau as the urchin-pixie of a designer. Tautau is a willful minx as Coco, and altho I didn't always like her character, I admired her throughout.

  8. THE BOX @Showcase Woburn
    Thumbs up. So happy to see Richard Kelly working once again at a more intimate scale to address cosmic matters (he followed the perfectly crafted DONNIE DARKO (I prefer the original to the director's cut) with the, alas, too big for its cinematic britches, SOUTHLAND TALES). In THE BOX, he expands on and extrapolates from the Twilight Zoney short story, "The Button," in which a man presents a couple with the gift of a push button. Once the button is pushed, two things would happen: 1. The couple would receive a million dollars; 2. Someone they do not know would die. After some hemming and hawing, the button is pushed. The couple receives their money and the man returns to take the button back. When he leaves, the couple ask him where he's taking the button. He replies, "To someone you don't know."

  9. GENTLEMEN BRONCOS @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up for superfantastic awesome! A budding young pulp scifi author apprentices himself for a time to his idol, whose career is on the verge of collapsing upon him. The idol sees the young writer's work as the key to saving his fortune, it just needs a little editing, his own name, and an enigmatic piece of art on the cover. Wacky fun totally ensues. =) Jared Hess, creator of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, is back in his wheelhouse, creating outsider-makes-good magic with a quirky, nerdy, charming sensibility. (I say "back" because I considered NACHO LIBRE to be somewhat forced, partly due to Jack Black's irresistible presence, partly due to big picture production value and pressure.) Sam Rockwell is aMAzing in this. I laughed so frickin much in this film! =)

  10. THE GOOD SOLDIER @the Brattle
    Thumbs up. A documentary focused on a handful of American veterans of wars spanning 60 years. They are eloquent and thoughtful and all discuss how their experiences of war, of battle, of violence and death at close quarters, have hurt them, damaged them, and motivated them to seek out and commune with and support their brothers as well as speak out against the practices of war. Screened on Veteran's Day at the Brattle.

  11. PICKPOCKET @the Brattle
    Thumbs up. A down-on-his-luck prideful young man with an itch for gambling decides to take up thieving to support himself and his habit. He builds for himself a philosophical justification for his behavior, which threatens to lose him the few friends he has. At the same time, he learns to upgrade his skills with the help of some new friends he makes, old hands at his newfound trade. The centerpiece of this beautiful little film is an amazing day at the train station in which the man and his new friends pick every frickin pocket in the place.

    Thumb up, thumb down. A very educational documentary of a remarkable man who built an outstanding and notorious legal career based on the notion that everyone and anyone deserves the best legal defense available, especially against an establishment that has an egenda of oppression and persecution. Although the presentation of the man's life and story may have benefited hugely from the fact that his daughters are the filmmakers, their presence as filmmakers "broke" the experience for me in moments, sometimes enhancing, sometimes distracting. A different editing tactic might have made me happier, as well as MORE about several of the marquee cases the film covers.

  13. THE NEW YEAR PARADE @the Brattle
    Thumbs up for a perfect little family dysfunctional film. The film follows a year in the life of a family with a generations-old tradition of performing with a certain troupe in the Philadelphia Mummer's Parade. It does a remarkable job of giving each member of the family, father, son, daughter, and mother, full and deep story and treatment. The family cast is excellent. They relate as their characters so very naturally. The kids are super impressive to me, the son looks like he may be Griffin Dunne's replacement, and the daughter, she's just frickin gifted. A spunkier Natalie Portman in BEAUTIFUL GIRLS. This is an indie flick and I don't know that it'll get any more big screen distribution, sadly. Regardless, see it.

  14. UNTITLED @Kendall Square
    Thumb up, thumb down. Some great characters do their eccentricly artistic, dissonantly musical, and publicly relating things against the backdrop of the modern art and music world, calling in to question the purpose and value, fiscal and metaphysical, of art and music, their creation, collection, and popularity. The cast creates some great eccentric characters (as opposed to cliches, which I was worried about), but I had a few groany moments that had to do with pacing and weak follow-thru.

    Thumbs up for some satisfying heroic bloodshed, Boston style. I feel like the filmmaker was a bit self-conscious about topping himself and his original BOONDOCK SAINTS, and made a couple of non-optimal choices in action scenes and some dialogue which seems built to step on itself, but I could forgive it in exchange for some fun gunplay. I'd really like to see the first one again to refresh.

  16. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK @the Brattle
    Thumbs up. It's RAIDERS!

  17. THE MAID @Coolidge Corner
    Thumbs up. When a family decides to hire some help for their live-in maid, she sees each candidate as a threat to her station in their home and her relationship to the family. She takes all manner of stubborn and creative steps to drive them from her domain. An understated dark comedy full of loads of surprising laughs and some tender moments.

    Thumbs up. A faux documentary on a mild-mannered Japanese salaryman doing his duty in the family trade: growing fifty stories tall to protect Tokyo from giant monsters. A brilliant premise with a wonderful follow-thru. Funny throughout, but frickin seizure-inducingly hilarious at the end. =)

    Thumb up, thumb down. Inconsistently funny, but the big laughs are pretty big, and the web of the intersecting lives of the characters is a little Monty Python, a little TAMPOPO. Not a bad thing at all.

  20. BLACK DYNAMITE @Coolidge Corner
    Thumbs way way up! KICKASS. See this at a weekend midnight show at the Coolidge!

  21. THE MESSENGER @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up. Some harrowing scenes of "casualty notification" punctuate the story of a soldier home from the fight, struggling with injuries physical and psychological. Great performances by the two leads, Woody as a by-the-book soldier with addiction issues just under his polished surface, and Ben Foster as the no longer quite right in the head young veteran trying to make sense of his experiences, his duty, and re/starting his life back in the world.

  22. BRONSON @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up. A little of the old ultraviolence, wrapped in a superslick package.

  23. PRECIOUS @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up for heart-punching quality filmmaking of an inspiring story of survival and love in the face of abuse, resentment, and fear. Check out the trailer. If you can handle it (and you may want to choose your moment), see the movie.

    Thumbs up. A solid, quirky, double episode of THE SHIELD, with Nic Cage in a form-fitting role of good cop gone bad and kinda crazy. NOT as wretched a man as Keitel's bad LT, and a film more plotful than I remember Abel Ferrara's being. Mind you, to be fair, I don't remember a lot from my one screening.

  25. CASABLANCA @the Brattle
    Thumbs WAY up! I LOVE this film. Louie's dialogue kills me all over again every time. =)

    Thumbs down. TERMINATOR 2 meets SMALL WONDER. How can you go wrong, right? Ha. I think I might've given a split thumbs call in my longer review, but thinking about it again now, there was just such a good foundation of ideas in this film that were executed way too loosely and scattershot. I don't know if this is fair, but I'm more disappointed w the movie as time goes on (ha!).

  27. RED CLIFF @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up! John Woo brings his brotherhood of action sensibilities to an epic historic Chinese battle. At the personal scale, sweet Woo choreography. At the battlefield scale, on land and on the water, LOTR deja vu. At the strategy scale, much to smile about, as clever plans and planning pay off in the heat of battle. A kickass ensemble cast led by the, frankly, beautiful, talented, charismatic Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Almost a dream movie for me.

  28. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE @The Brattle
    Thumbs up. Cary Grant can do ANYTHING, and pretty much does. An absurd dark comedic classic with a brilliant cast featuring Grant and Peter Lorre.

  29. PIRATE RADIO @Somerville Theater
    Thumbs up. Joyful laughs and rock and roll! The creator of LOVE, ACTUALLY delivers again, this time on the high seas off of th UK, directing a kickass cast, including the likes of Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Kenneth Brannagh, playing notorious pirate DJs who supplied the prim Brits with proper rock and roll.

  30. THE ROAD @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up for the doomiest post-doomsday ever. Based on Cormac McCarthy's story about the trek of father and son thru the mostly depopulated wasteland of the future, the film successfully captures the bleak and deadly cinder of a world they inhabit. Each day brings the threat of starvation, sickness, uncontrolled fires, and of course, cannibals. Good end times! It's not about the why of the end, of society, of civilization. It's not a preaching cautionary tale. This is doom, and it's coming, there's no stopping it. It's about surviving vs. living, and hope, morality, and humanity weighed against human nature, desperation.

  31. FANTASTIC MR. FOX @Kendall Square
    Thumbs up for clever, quirky, charming, anthropomorphic animated cool and fun. It's funny, I feel like Wes Anderson's vision suits this scale and aesthetic best, a natural fit for talking animals and miniature sets and manipulated time. Applying his style to human beings and human scaled drama, in a live action film, seems like a poor fit after seeing what he can do with fuzzy stop motion stars. Wonderful stuff. =)
For those of you playing along at home, that's 8 Brattle films and 23 non-Brattle flicks. 19.5 Watch-A-Thon movies. Feel free to use either number for your pledge calculations. Ayep. 31 movies in 30 days. No life, remember?

Keep on keepin on~


site | trailer
Thumbs WAY up for a mumbly nerd with heart, a Conchord, yeast lord Sam Rockwell, and balls!

From the creators of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE... GENTLEMEN BRONCOS! Yeah, okay. NAPOLEON D was pretty cool (I *love* it), but I think we can all agree that it was missing a few important things. It's clear to me that what it needed was...

1. More nerdiness.
2. More scifi.
3. More "special" effects.
4. A Flight of the Conchord.
5. More balls.
6. Surveillance does.
7. Yeast.
8. And, hey, what doesn't get better with Sam Rockwell?

Well, I'm here to tell you that the prayers you didn't even know you were praying have been answered! Experience GENTLEMEN BRONCOS! =)

I feel like the creator-director returns to home base with this, after what I felt was a forced detour in NACHO LIBRE. BRONCOS maybe has just a little less heart than NAPOLEON. Or maybe it's just a different kind of heart, slightly less romance-driven and more pumped by nerd accomplishment... like..., more liger, less Deb, y'know? In
any case it makes up for anything like a minus in the heart department with some really childish and awkward and wonderful other stuff.

Frickin frack! I laughed so much during this movie! =)

Sadly, I think it only had a week in one theater in Boston and apparently didn't go on to have a wide release. Crushed before it even had a chance. Fools. SEE THIS IF YOU CAN!

*SPOILER* The opening credits alone were worth the price of admission. Like the NAPOLEON opening, except instead of a montage of cafeteria cuisine, we're treated to some cover art mashups of pulpy scifi novels. Brilliant and beautiful and somehow for me, a bit tear-jerking.

Keep on keepin on~

Thursday, December 03, 2009


site | trailer
Thumbs up for wonky charming Wes Anderson goodness in a fantastic fuzzy anthropomorphic animated shell.

Also, a great second feature of a night of books-on-movie (it was my chaser for THE ROAD).

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


site | trailer
Thumbs up for some joyful and hilarious rockin and a-rollin!

Bill Nighy! Nick Frost! Philip Seymour Hoffman! Kenneth Branagh (doing a remarkable humorless Basil Fawlty)! Corralled onto a boat and mostly tamed by the writer of FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and creator of LOVE, ACTUALLY. I really shouldn't have to say any more. Frankly, you should have already stopped reading and been off to the theater after reading "Nick Frost!"

OK. OK. I suppose I can tell you a bit more. It's England in the 60s, and altho the BBC provides news and entertainment for all over the airwaves, they do not program modern music, that is to say, rock and roll. To fill this gap, this need, pirate radio stations broadcast from out at sea, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Radio Rock is the most notorious of these stations. The film introduces us to the eccentric and hilarious DJs and staff of Radio Rock through the eyes of young Carl, who, after getting himself expelled from school, has been sent to... apprentice, sort of, with his godfather, owner and manager of Radio Rock, Quentin (Nighy). While young Carl learns a great many things from these rogue radio pirates, about music, love, loyalty, and life, at the same time, back in London, minister of what's proper Dormandy (Branagh) has made it his mission to shut down all pirate radio. He and his unfortunately named lieutenant manipulate the press and the law as best they can to this end, but Radio Rock continues to broadcast. What can the pirates do, tho, when the Dormandy attempts to criminalize the act of broadcasting on the high seas? Wacky fun ensues!

See this movie!

Keep on keepin on~