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~

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