Tag Archives: Alamo Drafthouse

Majo No Takkyûbin

MV5BOTc0ODM1Njk1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5OTEyNw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_The second outing of the weekend was to catch the one Miyazaki movie playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse that I both had not seen and could fit in my schedule[1]. Hence, Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a 13 year old girl sent out on her own to make her way in the world for a year, in the traditions of her people. Who are witches, I should probably add.

Based on the vehicles and architecture, and other clues, I’m guessing that the never specified timeframe for the film is in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and I’m also assuming the locale is Japan. The latter is more strongly implied than the former, but neither is by any means definitive. For most of the movie, I assumed the point was mostly to showcase the gorgeous animation and soundtrack, via long, contemplative shots of Kiki flying across the countryside on her broom, or walking through her new city, and that the job (she delivers things for people, as you might expect) and relationships she was forming were mostly beside the point.

But then my mental jokes about making a 13 year old run off and earn her own living were translated seriously onto the screen, as she quickly lost her [Japanese phrase that means joie de vivre] in the humdrum grind of using her heritage and passion as a means of keeping herself fed and housed. From that turning point and throughout the final act, the story turned into more of a meditation on whether and how she could come back to herself and find her happiness, and now I think the movie is a love letter to post-war Japan, unsure of herself and finding her footing after a resounding defeat.

But maybe it’s just a feel-good movie about a witch and her sarcastic cat. That’s cool too.

[1] The only other one I’ve actually seen was the only other one that matched up schedule-wise, sadly. (Mononoke.)

Deadpool

MV5BMjM3MjEwODA3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzI4MzM1NzE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_Full disclosure: I am still years away from reading anything about Deadpool, and what I know about him could fit on someone’s palm as their cheat notes. He’s super violent, aware that he’s a character (or some other form of fourth-wall-breaking thing if not that), and he thinks he’s hilarious. I don’t even know if he’s actually hilarious, although the evidence points to yes.

Because, yep, I saw Deadpool (the movie) on Thursday night, with a delightful plate of chimichangas[1] in front of me, and here’s the deal. I’ve loved far more of the Marvel movies that have come out this century than not, and can only rate them correctly with distance. I therefore won’t say more than that this is definitely good. What I can say unreservedly is that it is by far and away the funniest superhero movie I’ve ever seen. If you ever wondered what a superpowered fight would really look like, or wished they didn’t censor themselves so heavily, or wanted the characters to be noticing the same dumbass discrepancies you do? This right here is your movie.

If you don’t like comics, I doubt this would bring you around, though. But also, while I’m dealing in irrelevancies: man, Ryan Reynolds has been a in a lot of comic book movies. (I bet this is the one he’s remembered for.)

[1] New knowledge: he likes chimichangas I guess?

The Hateful Eight

MV5BMTY4MTMxNTMxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODcyNjMzMjE@._V1._CR4,4,554,751__SX1859_SY893_I saw The Hateful Eight at the Alamo Drafthouse this weekend, partly because I want to see all Quentin Tarantino movies but mostly because that was the best of the buy one get one deals this week. (I still need to see Star Wars there.)

Here are the things this movie definitely delivers on: 1) Title accuracy. It is probably almost a spoiler to say that I do not know for sure which eight characters the title refers to, but there’s no doubt that there were some extremely hateful bastards up in this film. 2) Being a Quentin Tarantino movie. Somewhat stylized despite it being a period piece (the period is the post-Civil-War West), ultraviolent, as obscenity laden as it is probably possible for a movie to be, and full of detailed but meaningless digressions.

I don’t want to get into the plot, because it works pretty well coming in cold, but what it most reminded me of was Tarantino’s version of The Canterbury Tales. I’ll say this in its favor: I did not feel like I was in the theater for three hours.

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

I am jumbled, and I wonder if I oughtn’t wait until another viewing. But screw it, first impressions are important, on top of which it’s one of my few first shot times, so I’ll take it. And then cheat by first talking atmosphere. I know I go on about the Alamo Drafthouse mystique, but it was in fine enough fettle tonight to run down. Someone went to the effort of editing up the Cartoon Network Clone Wars endeavour down to its essential “here’s the bits that are related to the movie” bones, and then showed it, interspersed with all kinds of Star Wars filmed coolness and uncoolness, from Troops to Anakin Dynamite to a Muppet Show appearance to the Turkish Star Wars rip-off to the much maligned (and rightly so!) 1978 Christmas special. A very pleasant way to pass a couple of hours while waiting for the last big event movie of quite a while, and I commend them once more.

Then, there’s the movie itself. The scroll cleared the screen just in time to drop into an unrelenting action spectacle with all the right touches of humor and explosions alike. And then… well, things got a little wooden. Never bad, but never quite great. Motivations that were a hair off, decisions that very nearly made sense, enemies that were inches south of believable. Nothing enough to make me stop enjoying myself, but so much that came close to working perfectly that I had to be disappointed when it didn’t. The real irony I think is that it was the longest Star Wars movie, yet really needed another ten or twenty minutes of scenes expanded in just the right ways to achieve the brilliance it was in sight of.

That said, there’s a moment that I choose not to ruin[1] in the main portion of this review past which everything comes together again. It’s still never quite as perfect as that opening sequence, but the complaints from that moment on are nits to be picked, not faults to regret. It’s a hell of a thing, to know essentially everything that’s going to happen (not due to spoilers but to the logical consequence of having already seen the galaxy twenty years down the road from that moment) and still be kept on the edge of my seat, wondering what will happen next, if there’s a way out of it, how it came to this. For that, I’ll offer Lucas my thanks and my kudos. When he got to the important part, he made it work.

If you watched the other two movies, like or dislike, go ahead and see this one, at least the once. Even with the mis-steps, it’s worth it.
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Hotel Rwanda

It’s a lot to take in, is the thing. Sure, you’ve got the whole Germany and the Jews thing, but that’s so internalized into our culture that it doesn’t pack the same visceral punch. I didn’t know that yet, at this time yesterday. But, back a couple of months ago, the girl told me I should go see Hotel Rwanda. I doubt it would have crossed my mind to, on my own. This, also, is part of what there is that’s a lot to take in. So I looked for it, and kept looking for it, but it was a small distribution and was never local. Until last night, when the dear, dear Alamo Drafthouse started a three day run. I managed to escape work early enough for the run to downtown, so I got to go.

Really, there’s too much to tell about what went through my head while I was watching. It could be that there’s be too much to get it all out even if I waited a week, but I’m going to see another movie tonight, so now is the best time. Therefore, I try.

It’s a true story thing in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994. The comparisons to Schindler’s List are inevitable, but I’ll try to avoid them. I haven’t seen that movie since before the events of this one actually happened, so it’s possible my memory of it is flawed. On top of which, like I said earlier: Unfamiliarity has bred a deeper reaction, maybe. As for the film elements, they’re all fine. Unobtrusive cinematography, just as I prefer. Excellent acting, never over the top despite subject matter that would all too easily create that kind of thing. A script that only crossed the preachy line once, so that’s forgiveable, and it made up for it by humanizing characters that could have been too noble or too tragic or too evil.

Anyway, though, it’s a film based on a true story, and the story is probably easy to learn about, so I need not go into it here. I say probably easy to learn about, and that’s the part of what’s in my head what I will go into. I feel bad about myself, that I’d have to poke around to see how well-documented things are. I remember it happening, and sure, I was in college, but hell, that’s exactly the time I ought to have been the most fired up about it. And it barely registered. Now, it has registered. I got a little choked up looking at a billboard on the way up to Dallas today, because the subject matter reminded me of a line from the movie despite an only tenuous connection. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a nightmare sometime in the next week where a man will tell me to “Take the river road; it’s clear.” I feel bad about myself all over again for the things I thought would be pretty good ideas, for a few hours on a Tuesday in 2001.

Despite all that, I doubt my life will really change. The way I think about some things has changed, and I hope I keep that. I’m going to pay more attention, and maybe I’ll find a way to do something that would make a difference, someday. Probably not, and I won’t feel bad about that, because the main thing that makes heroes is circumstance. And no matter how I may feel about myself for never making that kind of difference, having the circumstance to allow for it would be far, far worse. That’s where the paying attention and the seeing things differently comes in, is by helping to avoid that kind of circumstance in the first place, maybe. And I can definitely get on that bus.

Sideways

So, early this week, I saw Sideways. Without a doubt, the best thing about it was the bleu cheese burger that accompanied it, since I was at the Alamo Drafthouse, prince among movie theaters that it is. Other than that… this review is going to have spoilers, because it’s hard enough to come up with anything to say even if I don’t worry about them.
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Ju-on: The Grudge

Lots of horror movies out these days, which means lots of chances to see Sarah Michelle Gellar taking a shower while a creepy Japanese curse causes fingers to appear out of the back of her head (or something like that) in previews of the latest Japanese horror remake, The Grudge.

I haven’t had a chance to see Ringu yet (it’s in my Netflix queue), but thanks to the delightful people who run the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain I had a chance to see Ju-on last night, a few weeks before the American remake hits theaters.

In any case, this one was a good, scary atmospheric piece. There’s this house, where it is established in the opening credits that a man previously went crazy and killed the hell out of his wife, son, and pet cat. Now people (the residents, remote family members, social workers, and police) wander in and out of the house for their various reasons, and some very angry dead people aren’t willing to stand for it.

The narrative is split up into randomly-sized and ordered chunks exploring the consequences of each individual’s passage into the range of the grudge. This works really well for the first hour and change of the movie. Unfortunately, the last two such scenes don’t make a lick of sense, and I left the movie with no idea how things had turned out or what the ultimate cause behind the evil was, or even if I’m supposed to know these things or not. But that’s okay, because I went for the creepy atmosphere, and got that in spades.

I’m still going to watch the remake, though. My hope is that an American director will insist on some coherence near the end. If I’m really lucky, it will cohere and also explain what was going on in the original, instead of just cohering by him making something entirely new up instead. Plus, Buffy in a shower. I mean, by far not my first choice of BtVS characters to see nekkid, but neither will I turn down what I’m offered. (Anyway, I’m sure there will be no nudity and that I’d have gone to see it no matter what. But you never can tell.)

Placer Sangriento

mv5bmti5mjq1njiwnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtkzodeymq-_v1_A few months ago, the Alamo Drafthouse was showing Night of the Bloody Apes on the Weird Wednesday midnight show. I was all prepared to go and had talked Laylah into joining me, but she had to be on a plane the next morning and didn’t want to miss the sleep. Luckily, Netflix had it. Unluckily, she hasn’t had time to come over and watch since it arrived, what with the law school thing going on. But, in the meantime, I’ve watched the rest of the DVD, which included Feast of Flesh and a wealth of special features designed solely for me.

Lots of previews for movies far too bizarre to remember anything of. Four short subject films, including a burlesque of a stripper (eventually down to pasties and whatever passed for a thong in the 1950s) being carried around by an ape, a short of four topless chicks bathing with each other in a stream on film stock that would have embarrassed Zapruder, a female wrestling championship round announced by the most condescendingly misogynistic man I’ve heard in a really long time, and, um, a fourth one.

As for Feast of Flesh, it was your average Phantom of the Opera knockoff where the masked organ player stalks the 20-something party set on the beaches of Argentina, first hypnotizing young women in dated bikinis with his music (which, to be fair, had a haunting quality to it) and then overdosing them with heroin once they annoy him and leaving their bodies strewn on the beaches. And he might have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those pesky cops!

The plot has nothing to recommend it; I was just barely able to keep my attention on it over the three days it took me to watch, and I’ve reconstructed some of the particulars from the imdb link above. It’s not impossible that I simply made up other details. If you can watch it and get a more accurate summary of what happened, then you’re a better man than I.

The reason to watch this, aside from the outstanding extras from a bygone movie era, is to laugh at what Argentinians and Americans considered shocking in 1963, including topless dancing girls, topless ocean swimmers (in all cases, the nudity can only be verified in slow-motion or frame-by-frame), bodies with large hypodermics sticking out of the chest, and lipstick lesbian volleyball players. According to imdb, that was enough to earn an X-rating in the United States. In any case, I’ve revealed every interesting point the movie has to offer, so unless you’re actually me (I’ve found that very few people are), give this one a pass.