Tuesday, August 30, 2011


trailer | website

A sweet, somewhat predictable story about beautiful delusions, relationships, superheroics, and superscience. So, of course I enjoyed it! =)

The predictable factor (at least that's how it was for a nerdy type like myself) is countered by the performances of Ryan "Jason Stackhouse" Kwanten as the mild-mannered Griff and superpowered vigilante, and the lovely Maeve Dermody as the potential romantic sidekick, Melody.

Okay, maybe I crushed on her and her character instantly, and hard, as soon as she banged her head for the first time. =)

It's great seeing Kwanten do something other than Jason. I've always thought that he deserved some serious recognition for his role on TRUE BLOOD. I mean, he is just SO good at making the improbable Jason real and naively consistent. Not that Griff is a particularly challenging part, but it's a nice change.

Especially the change of accent. Crizazy. Made me snicker when another character in GRIFF talks to him about how an accent can change a person's identity.

Synopsis. Griff leads two lives. One life, as Griff the customer service rep, working the phone in a cubicle. The other life, as Griff The Invisible, a defender of justice and powerful protector of the innocent, dispatching villainous thugs with a costumed fist to the face and boot to the bum. Or does he? His brother Tim moved back to town to help him out once his "episodes" got out of hand. Griff, you see, BELIEVES he's The Invisible, but what everyone else knows is that he is running around in a superhero costume prompting complaints to the police of a weird stalker in the neighborhood. The question is: is that so wrong? When Melody, Tim's new girlfriend and self-styled Experimentalist researcher meets him, her answer turns out to be: nope.

*** SPOILERS *** follow... Reflections on moments that I dig and such...

I love the Oscar Wilde quote that begins the film...
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

It was not familiar to me, and I couldn't remember ever reading or hearing it in the context of comic book superheroes, but surely it must have been, right? It's just so perfect.

I love how Melody almost instantly knowingly buys into Griff's superheroics, plugging her experimentalist science into his superpowered reality. She immediately recognizes that he's trying to create an invisibility suit and then applies her own science to improve upon it.

There's some sadness in the idea that Melody's differentness is somehow "above" Griff's, that she can see and understand his reality from her reality, AND know how to tweak her behavior to fit into his reality, playing along, in other words, when from Griff's point of view, he is not playing, but living.

Griff challenges her motivation once he's snapped out of it (when he overhears Melody's conversation w his brother Tim about how she could never invite him to dinner with her parents because he's just as much of a freak as she is) - something like "Was I just a monkey to you?" That IS how it looks from the outside. But Melody's delivery of her situation as living in a bubble that only he could get thru FELT enough like an answer that Griff ultimately has to forgive her. Or is it return to her?

Actually, he rejects her after that explanation, but only after he witnesses Melody's own unbelievable gift do they both realize that they belong together.

In the end, I'm not sure what they're existence is really like except that they are together and they are happy. It's sweet to see Tim being a willing enabler/helper, but I think that lends weight to the notion that Melody and Griff are sharing a life in the "normal" real world, and visiting Griff The Invisible's alternate reality strictly for fun, in an almost cosplay sort of scenario. Which is the proper happy ending, I guess.

The other path leads to the end of MAZES AND MONSTERS. A totally valid option, but tonight, I'm glad that it went happy.

It's a simple, and absolutely required bit of dis/continuity in telling a story like this, but I appreciate the proper flipping of props, costumes, and sets between Griff's reality and the everyday. The effects for the super-reality were pretty damn good, too. Not POW! BIFF! BLAM!, but just cool enough and cool.

A lot of the supporting cast have some great moments...

When Griff's boss Gary speaks to him about how he could make life easier for himself if he learned to be invisible, it's a very thoughtful take on living day-to-day life, surviving it. And it seems like, for a minute, it might sink in with Griff. Of course, he goes another way entirely. =)

Melody's parents each get a sweet moment. Almost John Hughesian. When dad walks in on Melody busy at work, which yields some pointilist art inspired by the space in between atomic particles, he nods at her explanations and theories, and she smiles, knowing that he's nodding, and he tells her that he and her mother just want her to be happy. It's sweet.

When mom walks in to call her down to dinner and ultimately meet the new, de-powered, Griff, Melody hits her with a big Question: something like... Do you think that life exists by chance, or by design...? Oh, and leave religion out of it. Mom comes back with, "I think it's like gymnastics... You look up at the stars and you see infinity. You look down in a microscope and you see infinity again. And here, in the middle, this is life. And it's like being on the balance beam, perfectly balanced, in the middle... This is life." Something like that, at least. And it was quite lovely.

Yeah, I'm a sucker. Wanna fight about it?

The music was fun, and in particular this one theme that starts out with this, like, I dunno, Casio keyboard, one-key-at-a-time melody, and then builds up in layers. I'd like to learn to make some music like that some day. It seems simple, but builds up to something really fun.

The first time it sort of speaks up, the first time I pay attention to it, is when Melody first appears. I didn't quite recognize it as such, but maybe it's her theme? It's the music that leads up to her first *bonk* of the film, and, comic book nerd that I am, I instantly wish-know why it is she knocks herself into the wall. She is testing herself for a superpower - phasing.

There's a cut to her scribbling in her notebook right after that, apparently recording the result of her test, maybe suggesting a modification for her next test, but alas, I couldn't make out enough of the handwriting to know for sure.

Still, in my fanboy heart, I knew. I guess the movie probably won me right there.

I wish I could've seen this for the first time with a date who would get what was going on.

Eh, who am I kidding? I wish I could've seen this for the first time with Melody. =)

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, August 29, 2011

BTIES: Shallow Gravy's "Jacket!" =)

See the Venture Family as you've never seen them before: in an 11 minute documentary-style animated uncensored special. Follow the meteoric rise, the equally meteoric fall, and the decidedly un-meteor-like second coming of the most important band Hank Venture, Dermott Fictel and H.E.L.P.eR. robot have ever been in--Shallow Gravy. If you're hungry for rock, then open wide--because here comes a ladle of heavy metal fire and metaphoric meat drippings!

Download the music video via iTunes now! =)

Keep on beepin on~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BTIES: "You literally bust a nut..."

Love it when Colbert lets his genuine schoolboy/fanboy self show. Especially, of course, when I'm right there with him. =)

STS-135 crew: Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Rex Walheim & Sandy Magnus

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Dateline: Tuesday afternoon, post-earthquake Somerville.

Felt it at the office. It was like the bridge of the Excelsior at the start of STAR TREK 6: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY. Joe noticed it first. I thought it was a heavy truck rolling by on the street, but then I saw how the iced coffee in my DnD cup was swaying, and the water in Joe's glass and my water bottle. Once I stood up, I could really feel it, too. Pretty cool. Kinda nuts.

Where could we look for confirmation or explanation? Where else? The tweets, which out-informed official news sources for several minutes by my click-reckoning. Is this AMAZING? Ask me again when someone's name trends and it's because everytwit thinks he's dead, and he's not. Just another day in the future.

Still, despite the lopsided ratio of coverage to actual event, it's kinda nifty to see happen.

It being an east coast earthquake, a lot of the twits and fakebook updates do sorely tempt the "that's what she said" reflex.

"Did you feel that?"

"I felt it."

"The room shook!"

"We felt it in the ball room..."

... and such. =)

How many observers do we need at the macro scale to actually change the outcome of an event? Is that possible? Y'know, besides on FUTURAMA, "reality" shows, and documentaries?

Did you know that Colorado got quaked last night? And today, Virginia! Is it Lex Luthor making another attempt at creating new oceanfront real estate?

Or maybe it's a new supervillain making his or her debut? Or could it be a result of fracking? Or maybe those are both actually the same question, eh? Hrmmmm...

Or wait, if you factor in the hurricane action, well, if we receive reports of hot hail from anywhere, I'd hafta say Ming the Merciliess is back. There *is* a question mark at the end of that movie, y'know.

Keep on keepin on~

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BTIES: "best wedding pictures ever..."

Click and scroll down.... =)

Thanks to JK for pointing me to the best wedding pictures ever. =)

Keep on creepin on~

Friday, August 12, 2011

The End (of the Watch-A-Thon) Is Nigh!


Yeah, the details are a bit sketchy, but regardless of your personal beliefs, you know it's coming. You've seen the signs. Climate change. Increasing civil and political unrest across the globe. Environmental crises and natural disasters. Wars and rumors of wars. TRANSFORMERS 3.

Are *you* ready for Doomsday? Sure, you can try to survive it, save your mortal coil, if you can afford it. Invest in an apocalypse bunker so that you start off at the top of the hellscape food chain. But even an economy class bunker will set you back something like ten grand. Who can afford that in this recession, right?

You might be better off avoiding the hellscape altogether by seeing to your soul rather than your body. And how does one go about doing that? Well, you want to start by having lived all of your life in a wholesome, righteous fashion. Meaning, y'know, you've had love in your heart for all creatures great and small, been a responsible steward of the environment, turned the other cheek, recycled faithfully, flagellated yourself vigorously for those impure thoughts you've had when walking by American Apparel, and flossed regularly.

If you've done that, you should be all set and square with just about any maker, deity/s, or higher power who will be judging whether to honor you with a place in Valhalla or instead sentence you to a rendezvous with Sawyer, Jack, and Kate for a disappointing finale.

So, you've done all that righteous living, right?

Not so much, you say? Hrmm...

Well, then what you're gonna want to do is invest in some Good Works: charitable-type acts on your part in support of the needs of others. You know, that stuff that when you hear someone else does it, you say something like, "Yeah, right, he's just doing that so that no one can say he's a complete toolbox. You KNOW he cares more about the tax deduction than finding homes for those no-good slacker hobo clowns."

Now, here's where I can help you, cuz I've got a charitable-type act that totally supports the needs of others, namely, me, my Watch-A-Thon, and the awesome little moviehouse known as the Brattle Theatre.

So, do yourself a favor and save your eternal soul. Donate, and sponsor my 2011 Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon! You can contribute to your salvation via my FirstGiving page.

Otherwise, well, I'll see you in Hell...

... Y'know, thru my binoculars, looking down from Valhalla.

Have a nice day. =)

Keep on keepin on,
brian out

P.S. Save a friend! Forward the good word on to those who don't want to be left behind with the mutants, reavers, and smokers.

P.P.S. Only three days to the finish line! Please donate, and let me know if you'd like to catch the original 3:10 TO YUMA or SKATETOWN USA at the Brattle, or FINAL DESTINATION 5 at Davis Square, with me this weekend. =)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 8

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

    trailer | website
    NOT the feel-good-hit-of-the-summer, but I hafta say, THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED is a helluva film. A really well-crafted documentary with some amazing access to the subject over the span of five years, and edited so that its viewpoint remains as objective as possible.

    On the personal scale, it's an almost unbelievable situation (a known killer reinvents himself as a holy man), but on top of that, stepping back to a national / societal level, it demonstrates an impossible issue that many nations born or reborn in strife have to deal with. An issue most likely in the future of more than a couple of countries across the globe. Heck, we even deal with it to a degree in the U.S. Basically, what is a society to do with the likes of a General Butt Naked (a violent revolutionary and warlord) once the fighting is over and a government is in place, rebuilding, and ideally, meting out justice? Some of the General's warlord counterparts have ended up in the new parliament in Liberia, but apparently none will own up to the crimes they committed during the years of war. Joshua (the General's real name), having found God, claims he is ready to face punishment for his crimes, and has begun a perhaps lifelong journey to find every victim or survivor of his crimes and ask their forgiveness, as well as help as many of his previous child soldiers get on their feet as productive, God fearing citizens of Liberia. So, you've got ex-warlord politicians protecting their status by denying their crimes, and one ex-warlord evangelist seeking to make up for the tragedies he caused by turning lives around. Who do you put on trial?

    There's also the matter of the actual making/shooting of this film having an effect on Joshua's encounters with survivors and victims. You know, the "reality show" and quantum physics thing about how a result can be changed by the act of observing it? I wonder how the scenes we see in the film would have unfolded without documentary film cameras present. Butt Naked the General and Joshua the evangelist are both charismatic performers.

    Anyhow, I highly recommend it at the end of a REALLY Good day, when you feel like you can handle a fantastic true story that's built on a lot of tragedy. Y'know, like BRING IT ON, but with Kirsten Dunst as an apparently reformed merciless killer.

    Or something. =)

    Probably best seen with company so you can discuss afterward.
    [Brattle blurb]
    Directed by Eric Strauss and Danielle Anastasion

    Joshua Milton Blahyi (aka General Butt Naked) was a ruthless and feared warlord during Liberia’s 14-year civil war. Today, he has renounced his violent past and reinvented himself as a Christian evangelist on a journey of self-proclaimed transformation. Blahyi travels the nation of Liberia as a preacher, seeking out those he once victimized in search of an uncertain forgiveness. But in the end, are some crimes beyond the pale of forgiveness?

    Dubbed “General Butt Naked” for fighting with nothing more than an AK-47 and a pair of leather shoes, Blahyi believed he possessed supernatural powers that made him impervious to bullets. The General and his army of child soldiers are said to have killed thousands during Liberia’s horrific civil war.

    Following a dramatic conversion to Christianity, the General abruptly laid down his weapons in 1996, leaving behind his soldiers, his country and a war that would rage for another seven years.

    Today, Blahyi is on a quest for redemption: facing those he once terrorized, preaching where he once murdered, and trying to rebuild the shattered lives of those he commanded during the war. For five years, filmmakers Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion tracked his often troubling path up-close, finding both the genuine and disconcerting in Blahyi’s efforts. The film forces us to question the very nature of what true, meaningful reconciliation looks like in a country where justice has not been available.

    Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 6

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

    trailer | website
    A supercool, irreverant, and kind of joyous buddy cop/fish-out-of-water/Irish Western with a rocking cast including Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, LOST's (as far as I'm concerned =) Fionnula Flanagan, and a half dozen others whom I don't know by name but who nevertheless shine, as bungling and malevolent cops, merciless but philosophical criminals, white hats, black hats, and simple townsfolk (aka kindly prostitutes and kid CIs).

    Right from the start, I *know* it's going to be good...

    *** SPOILER ***

    A quick-ish recollection of the opening scene of the film...

    We see a car full of kids racing recklessly down a two-lane seaside/country road, music blasting, drink and drugs passed around, car weaving across the center line (and in Ireland, so reversed from the U.S. =). We zip ahead to a Garda police car on the side of the road and then see the car zing by. The police car doesn't move. Doesn't even flinch. Off screen: the kids' car comes to an abrupt, crunchy, stop. The police officer, with title "Garda" sewn into his jacket, walks to the wreckage, makes his way from body to body, checking for a pulse and then items in their pockets, relieving them of anything that might compromise their good reputations, including a little baggie of pills and smiley-faced tabs. The officer, Sargeant Boyle, played by Brendan Gleeson, drops one of the tabs on his tongue and stands up to face the rising sun over the ocean. "Gonna be a beautiful day." THE GUARD.

    Right? Totally know it's gonna be good, right?

    And it only gets better. A new recruit from Dublin, joins Boyle's force later that day, just in time to check out the murder of a John Doe, stylized to appear like an occult, ritual killing. When Boyle is directed to report to central command, he learns from FBI agent Wendell Everett, played by Don Cheadle---

    "Behavioral sciences unit?"

    ---that his John Doe is connected to a drug trafficking ring suspected of moving five hundred million - "That's half a billion..." - in drugs into Ireland in the next few days. And so, agent Wendell "straight-laced" Everett joins unconventional sergeant Gerry "feckin wichya" Boyle in his small Irish town hoping to bust this ring wide open. Wacky fun ensues, leading to a pretty wonderful and badass HIGH NOON scenario.

    Snappy dialogue, quirky characters, kickass soundtrack. I will be first in line for writer-director John Michael McDonagh's next films. He's the brother of IN BRUGES writer-director Mark McDonagh, and y'know, frankly, this film reminded me of that one in tone and attitude. Helluva gene pool there.

    Actually, the only weak bit, looking back, is the one that told me how good it would be - the opening scene. Maybe I missed it in some line that dripped overly heavily in an Irish brogue, but I would've liked for the situation with the reckless kids to have been connected somehow to the drug traffickers. Maybe the kids were blowing money or drugs that they were paid to help the ring in a very low-level way... Or something. But no, it was "just" a really great intro establishing Gleeson's Boyle's nature and the character of the film. =)

    trailer | website | Harvard Film Archive
    Okay, let's see if I can explain this. There's a scandalous mystery involving a lovely May ingenue and a September politician. There's a report of the mystery that gets adapted into a screenplay. There's a director who falls in love w the story and casts a young unknown as the ingenue and an anchorman veteran actor as the politico. This movie tells the story of the actual mystery as well as the story of the shooting of the film based on the mystery and isn't careful about cluing you in as to which bit of storytelling you're watching in any given scene.

    So, it's kind of a puzzlebox, and pretty clever in concept, but less than perfect in execution, at least, for my taste. It seems a little more "experimental" than it needs to be, but, having caught the first 15 minutes of post-screening Q&A w the director, it seems that that's most of what he wanted out of this film and filmmaking experience. O well.

    I kind of LOVE the basic idea, and the plot of the scandal, but I do wish it had been edited a bit better, and the meta-plot resolved more... deliberately. You'll hafta watch it to see what I mean.

    Oh, given that the plot was rather Hitchcockian, I thought it was cute that the anchorman actor's name was Cary Stewart. Of course, it helped that I'd just seen NXNW and VERTIGO, heh. =)
    [HFA blurb]
    With Shannyn Sossamon, Tygh Runyan, Cliff De Young
    USA 2010, digital video, color, 101 min

    Hellman's bold new film is a moody neo-noir that revolves simultaneously around an unsolved murder mystery and a daring film-within-a-film mirror game. An elliptical and seductive meditation on cinematic illusionism and story telling, Road to Nowhere reveals Hellman's ardent love of the cinema through its thoughtful allusions to Sam Fuller, Victor Erice and Alfred Hitchcock, among others. The gorgeous Shannyn Sossamon casts a bewitching spell on the film as a changeling starlet weaving enigmatically through the intertwined stories, sparking obsessive desires along the way. The first American feature shot using a handheld digital still camera, Road to Nowhere makes clear Hellman's remarkable gift for visual narrative through the haunting imagery that gives the film the floating quality of a waking dream.

    trailer | Brattle
    [Brattle blurb]
    (1982) dir Amy Heckerling w/Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Ray Walston [90 min]

    This classic coming-of-age film is not only a hilarious comedy and touchingly human-scale story, but also a remarkable time-capsule of California in the early ‘80s. A clear template for Judd Apatow’s comedy blockbusters of today.

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, August 08, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 5

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • THESE AMAZING SHADOWS @the Brattle, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | website | National Film Registry
    A love letter to the movies. I didn't realize that this weekend's programming at the Brattle is actually framed by this film and its topic, the National Film Registry, created in the late 80s to collect and preserve American film. All the other films screening this weekend have been selected for the Registry and figure prominently in the clips and discussions in the documentary. Whether you're a film buff or not, if you get a chance to see SHADOWS, please do. It's fun to see how so many different movies, from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, can be artistic and historic reflections of America, its filmmakers, and its people.
    [Brattle blurb]
    (2011) dir Paul Mariano, Kurt Norton [88 min]

    THESE AMAZING SHADOWS is a remarkable documentary for anyone who loves movies – from the casual filmgoer to the ultimate cinemaniac. Ostensibly the story of the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, THESE AMAZING SHADOWS is that and so much more – it is also a tale of discovery and exploration, a primer on the history of film, and an examination of how and why all cinema (from the sacred to the profane) must be preserved and protected. Through interviews with Registry board members, archivists, and notable directors, the filmmakers demonstrate how document artistic, historic, and societal milestones as well as being great entertainment. Guided by a true cinephile’s love of the medium and a treasure trove of archival footage, THESE AMAZING SHADOWS molds a cultural history from pieces of film, offering a microcosm of the work of the National Film Registry and making a powerful case for film preservation.

  • BLAZING SADDLES @the Brattle, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | added to the National Film Registry in 2006
    What is there to say, really? As juvenile and musical and clever as ever. Oh, I never realized that Richard Pryor was a co-writer of this film until this screening. Maybe more than any other Brooks film, this one is chock full of Bugs Bunny-type setups and gags. For some reason, I never really identified them as such before.
    [Brattle blurb]
    (1974) dir Mel Brooks w/Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks [93 min]

    Mel Brooks’ maddeningly hilarious spoof of classic Westerns features some of the 1970’s best gags and most absurdly tasteless dialogue. Not to be missed on the big screen with a crowd!

  • RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES @AMC Harvard Square, 8/5/2011.
    trailer | website
    RISE is pretty frickin awesome. You don't need to be a fan of the original film/s, but if you are, it's EXtra awesome. A totally satisfying action sci-fi flick, featuring CG apes as emotional and empathetic as their live-action human costars, if not moreso, and a clever updated reboot to the PLANET OF THE APES mythos.

    When Caesar, the first scientifically-enhanced chimpanzee, runs afoul of the law, Dr. Franco has to turn him over to an ape sanctuary until he gets a date for an appeal to have him returned to his custody. This part of the movie plays like a prison flick, a little SHAWSHANK, a little PRISON BREAK, and a really well done one at that.

    I don't think that the subtext of the original films follows all that strongly in this one. Of course you can read into bits of dialogue, conflicts, relationships, and circumstances, but I don't know that any are sustained as seriously developed themes throughout. I almost don't want to look that hard, y'know?

    *** SPOILERS follow ***

    Turn back now if you haven't seen the film already.

    There are a dozen or so callbacks to the original, visuals, dialogue, and some fun upside-down/reversed scenarios.

    1. "Get your stinking paw off me you damn dirty ape!"
    2. "It's a MAD HOUSE!"
    3. Caesar enjoys crafting it up in his attic home. One of the items we get to see him working on is a balsa wood-type replica of the Statue Of Liberty!
    4. Caesar's mother is nicknamed Bright Eyes by the chimpanzee handler and Dr. Franco.
    5. If you're paying attention, you'll see that there is a manned mission to Mars under way elsewhere in the world, and by the end of the movie's events, there is news that the mission craft has apparently disappeared. Cue up the original PLANET OF THE APES film for the fate of their crew! =)
    6. I don't remember a very satisfying explanation or conjecture from the original series about the cause of Man's devolution, but this film's story does something very clever by connecting the origin of the apes' increased intelligence to the downfall of Man and Man's civilization. When a human is exposed to the compound (113, not 112), it creates a killer contagion, whose patient zero conveniently infects an airline pilot. The end credits roll over a simulation of the spread of this virus across the globe. This does not definitely/obviously lead to a radioactive post-apocalypse, but the dots can certainly be connected with a little imagination.
    7. Not a callback, just a little annoying something. There's a line I remember from a commercial or trailer that didn't make the final cut. Dr. Franco to Caesar: Never let them catch you. It would have been a powerful directive.

Keep on keepin on~

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 2

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • TABLOID @Kendall Square 8/2/11.
    trailer | website
    Together with VERTIGO, this turned out to be an unplanned double feature about obsession. TABLOID is a wonderful Errol Morris documentary about Joyce McKinney, a young beauty queen (Miss Wyoming) who made headlines in 1977 when she tracked down and rescued (or was it abducted?) her lost true love, who had disappeared to London without a word. According to her, she was a naive innocent believer in true love, determined to save her fiancee from the brainwashing of his cult. In the words of UK tabloid reporters of the time, she was a manipulative stalker with a hidden past as an escort and adult model with a taste for bondage. It is an amazing story and the film does an excellent job of telling it like it is (and like it isn't). Only, you're never quite sure which is which. There's also a somewhat zany second tail to her story, unrelated to the true love and bondage, involving her faithful canine companion Booger and an appointment with a doctor specializing in cloning.

    That's right. You read it right: cloning.

  • VERTIGO @the Brattle, 8/2/11.
    A Hitchcock classic. I thought that I'd never seen it before, but as it unfolded, I remembered a couple of scenes and story elements and realized that I must have seen it at the Brattle in the last couple of years. This cinemnesia happens to me way more than I'd like. Sad.

    Jimmy Stewart is a favorite of mine and is as charming and instantly likable as ever. He plays retired police detective Jon Ferguson, who's hired by an old friend to keep watch on his wife. The old friend fears that she may need protection. As Stewart shadows Madelaine (Kim Novak, who reminded me here for the first time of Jennifer Connelly), he begins to fall for her. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems, and ultimately, once his protection services are no longer needed, Ferguson can't leave Madelaine alone. Wacky fun ensues. After this viewing, I hafta say, this is not my favorite Hitchcock film, and the plot/ending is not very satisfying to me, but it's still a fun bit of storytelling and manipulation.

    I thought that the director had a cameo in all of his films, but I didn't spot him tonight. Maybe I blinked and missed him somewhere? Foo.

    One of the elements of the film that sparked my faded memory of the film was a sting of music that happens early on. On screen I think Stewart is tailing Novak and we see the exterior of a building at twilight but I'm not clear now on which/where it is - the church w the graveyard? Anyhow, I remember remembering that this piece of music sounded like a theme from LOST's soundtrack and wondering that maybe it was the source inspiration. This film after all, along with NXNW, is playing at the Brattle as part of a centennial tribute to film score composer Bernard Herrmann, and the music is palpable and wonderful in both.

Keep on keepin on~

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

2011 Watch-A-Thon: Day 1

[Rambling on movies I've hit as part of this year's Brattle Theatre Movie Watch-A-Thon. For the running count of 'thon films with titles, sans commentary, look here]

  • NORTH BY NORTHWEST @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
    I've seen this maybe a half dozen times at the Brattle and it's always a pleasure. Cary Grant is so frickin dashing it's ridiculous. After watching summer blockbusters every week for the past couple months, the pacing is kind of remarkable. It takes its time, y'know? When Grant's Thornhill is dropped off in the middle of nowhere to meet the mysterious George Kaplan, it is MINUTES of waiting, wondering if this or that passing car is Kaplan and who that guy is waiting for the bus, before that iconic biplane cropduster begins its strafing runs. Does anyone DO that anymore? Let things happen on screen?

    I was kind of surprised that no one laughed when Hitchcock did his cameo.

    Early on in the film, Thornhill is very much in his element, an advertising man on Madison Ave. A Mad Man. I totally had flashes to a Don Draper / Jon Hamm playing this role. A different kind of dashing, but still, the role of the boozing charmer of a Casanova set off an odd televisional/cinematic deja vu resonance in my TV/movie brain. Gotta say, the Saul Bass opening titles also whispered "MAD MEN" to me. Simple, beautiful, ingenious motion graphics.

    Partway thru the film, I had words with a texter sitting in front of me in the balcony. I waited til I saw the annoying rectangle of light show up for the third time and then asked if he could please put that away. He ignored me and kept tapping out his (third) very important message. I was a little stunned, no pause, no recognition, not even a lame "almost done, sorry," so I raised my voice a bit, enough that everyone in the balcony heard me. And the guy got put out. I mean, he turned around to start talking back to me in a "You got a problem with me?" way. When I repeated myself, he said something like, "I was checking a message!" as if that was acceptable. I explained that he could've done that in the stairwell (he was in the row right next to the left one, altho he would have had to step across his two friends, who were silent). He stood up and turned to face me completely to say, "Do you want to take this outside? You messed with the wrong guy..."

    Really? Well, I did not want to step outside as I was there to watch this movie. I stayed in my seat, he continued with a couple more road ragey challenges, and I kept my replies to remarks about how ridiculous this is and the guy deflated in a couple of minutes and returned to his seat.

    An... interesting start to the Watch-A-Thon...

  • MACHETE @the Brattle, 8/1/11.
    trailer | website
    AWESOME. A brilliant 21st century execution of (what I take to be) the grindhouse genre, specifically, Mexploitation, complete with social commentary subtext! Three years ago, a Mexican Federale, codename: Machete, is set up by leathery drug kingpin Torrez, his family killed and he himself left to die. Today, on the Texas side of the border, Machete surfaces as an anonymous illegal day laborer. When he is unwittingly tapped by a scheming businessman to play fall guy in the assassination of a senator who's built his platform on targeting illegals and walling up the border, Machete becomes a people's hero to an underground network of illegal immigrants being exploited for labor, profit, and votes by The Man on both sides of the border. He finds allies in the network's dedicated leader Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), the preacher from his past, Padre Cortez (Cheech Marin), and even feisty wide-eyed ICE agent Sartana (Jessica Alba), who's torn between her duty and the plight of her brothers and sisters. "There's the law, and then there's what's right." Wacky bloody fun ensues. =)

    This was my second big screen screening of the film and it remains thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable, loaded with over-the-top action, violence, and a frankly unbeatable cast, including Robert De Niro, Steven Seagal, Danny Trejo as the titular blade-slinging hero, and introducing a promising young upstart, Mr. Don Johnson. Heh. I hafta say that this film had already earned bonus points when I first saw the trailer cuz it reunited some of my LOST family: Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin, and Jeff Fahey. Also, Lindsay Lohan!

Keep on keepin on~