Between a Rock and a Pin Prick

Posted in List-omania, Review with tags , , , on June 14, 2015 by Timothy Parfitt

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In Needle, a short film by Iranian filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, sixth-grader Lily (Florence Winners) stands on the threshold between child and adulthood. Adults, including her bickering parents, talk over and down to her, and pump her for information on the other figures in her life. Ghazvinizadeh’s sharply observed film builds of Lily’s emotional landscape by filming her reactions to the turmoil around her. By making her the focus of the camera, but not the conversation, Lilly is portrayed as simultaneously a part of, but outside of, the adult world. Continue reading

In Defense of Old Run Down Theaters

Posted in Ruminations and Dedications with tags , , , , on April 26, 2015 by Timothy Parfitt

by Timothy Parfitt

The two closest movie theaters to me offer two different experiences. One is a bit stuffy, and shows foreign and art house movies that I theoretically want to see, but rarely actually go to. They also sell cocktails and the audience is often on the elderly side. Then there’s the mall multiplex, which shows all the blockbusters and is full of kids and teenagers.

Never had a ventured to the third farthest, the one unconnected to any upscale shopping establishment or quaint faux-downtown area. Deep in suburban no man’s land I found what I had been missing all along: the dingy run-down theater. The girl selling tickets is sixteen. The man ripping tickets belongs in a Peter Jackson movie. There’s barely anyone working there and twenty screens showing a mishmash of first and second run attractions.

The night in question, I was in an inattentive mood, so I ended up skirted the law and watching bits and pieces of four different movies. I watched a smidge of While We’re Young, which felt plodding and stiff. Then I sat through the first thirty minutes of the movie I had paid to see, It Follows, which I wanted to like, but it felt polished in a distancing way. Then I snuck into Get Hard, which seemed painfully unfunny. Why Will Ferrell had decided to go with his innocent-baby-schtick instead of his arrogant-asshole schtick, I’ll never understand. Finally, I watched a bit of Danny Collins, which looked painful from the previews, but ended up being the best of the bunch. Al Pacino in full hoo-hah mode can be a little much at times, but here he’s put to good use.

So I thank the run down theater for letting me pick at these different movies like a buffet table. It wasn’t a balanced or refined meal, but boy did I leave satisfied.

The Downside of Characters Having Personality – Big Hero 6

Posted in Review with tags , on April 26, 2015 by sdoob

Review by Sam Doob

run time 108 mins – that’s long

It’s creepy. It’s about an inflatable healthcare robot that, when low on batteries, becomes shrivelled and behaves like a fall down drunk. It speaks with a pre-recorded voice: male, blithe, debatably asexual. (But who wants to debate that?) Also the teenage girl characters have lots of accentuated body parts, which is somewhat new terrain for Disney. I guess they took a tip from Pixar’s Mrs. Incredible. And another tip from Heavy Metal. But at least those were women. Princess Aurora and Cinderella were never so voluptuous. It’s not the best feeling to be attracted to a cartoon. But it’s definitely not a good feeling to be attracted to underage cartoons. Finally, the most creepy thing about Big Hero 6: the co-director’s previous movie was Bolt.

BH6 feels heavily workshopped. Since Disney clearly wanted to create a new string of sequels here, they did not take any chances. Sitting through the movie, one can almost hear the comments elicited from the test audiences. The result is uninteresting characters, about as edgy as the corner of an ipad. Continue reading

Is Fear Funny?

Posted in Review with tags , , on April 26, 2015 by sdoob

Last night, I went to the movies by myself. And yeah, it was pretty bleak. I saw Top Five, a movie about a comedian who is over the hill and struggling to be funny after getting off the sauce. It could have been good. The preview was. But the movie wasn’t funny. Frankly, Chris Rock should have hired some joke writers to punch up his script; but then he would have to admit he didn’t have it in him to fill out the dialogue with good lines. Continue reading

Fast Cars and Arepas: Furious 7

Posted in Review with tags on April 26, 2015 by sdoob

Review by Sam Doob 

First of all, I have a friend who does an entire podcast about this franchise. It’s called “No One Likes The Tuna.” So you might want to go there if you want to hear about this movie in further detail. Because I’m going to make this brief.

I ate arepas before the movie. Then the theater smelled like feet.

Furious 7 had a credit sequence so weary of the modern day attention span that dozens of people were dead and blown up before we even knew who the casting director was. Patience is a virtue. And as Vin Diesel says — I’m paraphrasing now — “It’s not just about being fast anymore.” But the movie’s editorial staff could not take Vin Diesel’s advice and the result was like a shitty babysitter who races through the bedtime story when maybe the kid wants to examine the pictures a while before turning the page. Continue reading

Emotionally-Available Space Odyssey – Intestellar

Posted in Review with tags on December 3, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

No director can get away with making riskier blockbusters within the Hollywood system than Christopher Nolan. Having brought home the bacon with the bleak Batman trilogy, he’s parlayed his sway into two mindbenders, first Inception and now Interstellar. Interstellar is chock full of cosmic adventures, black holes, worm holes and emotional rescues.

The film follows Cooper, an astronaut turned farmer who lives out in the country with his father in law (John Lithgow) and his two kids sometime in the distant future. In this dystopian future, dust has killed off most of the crops, fancy college learning is discouraged so more kids can help address the global food crisis, NASA has been disbanded and textbooks rewritten to call the moon landing a hoax. Cooper and his daughter follow a mysterious signal and find that, pysch!, NASA hasn’t been disbanded, it’s been driven under ground and is being run by Alfred, I mean Michael Caine. Continue reading

Grizzled Grandpa Returns

Posted in Review with tags , , on September 20, 2014 by Timothy Parfitt

Liam Neeson’s second career as a onscreen badass is in full bloom. Starting with Taken in 2008, Neeson has carved himself a niche as the gloomy European elder statesman of capable-action-heroes-who-have-seen-some-shit. His sense of authority, and sadness, provides a welcome relief to the never-ending parade of cobble-stoned abs that define most younger action stars. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, Neesons is paired with the most compelling script and able director of his surprising renaissance, with satisfying results.

The film centers around Matt Scudder (Neeson), a unlicensed private detective. In a prologue set in 1991, we see a wild-haired Scudder accept free shots of whiskey with his coffee at a dark bar. When robbers burst in a kill the bartender, Scudder, still an NYPD cop, follows them into the street and shoots them dead. One of his bullets ricochets and hits a nine-year-old girl in the eye.

Flash forward to 1999, Scudder is retired from the force. The “unlicensed” part of his detective practice means he doesn’t charge a fee. He does favors for people, and they give him “gifts” in return. He gets called the elegantly-furnished home of Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens, a.k.a. Matthew from Downtown Abbey), a drug dealer whose wife was kidnapped. Kristo paid the ransom, but his was still killed. He offers Scudder forty-thousand dollars to track down and deliver the kidnappers to him.

The script is based on a Lawrence Block novel of the same name, and the film captures the toughness and nonchalance of his writing. Hard-boiled is like cool, you can’t appear to be trying. Director Scott Frank also adapted the screenplay, and he and Neeson get the attitude right. Let the darkness speak for itself. Nothing is overplayed. Except for black-homeless teenager sidekick part, TJ (Astro), which mostly works while flirting with cliche. Highly recommended for fans of stories where bad people do bad things and sorta good people do bad things in the name of good.

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