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~

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