Friday, November 30, 2007

At the Movies

My wife and I used to see EVERY movie that came to our local multiplex. We didn't have kids yet, we took graduate courses to become certified teachers, we worked at the mall at night, and after work, we'd go see something that was playing at Hoyts Cinema. Whatever was playing. The "good stuff" first, obviously, but since we took turns choosing, it was definitely a range of genres (and quality). By Wednesdays and Thursdays we were stuck with stuff about secret agent dogs and movies starring Brendan Fraser. Yet we sat through it all. And sometimes, when she worked late (at the Cinema, which is how we got in for free to see all these movies), I'd go see something by myself, waiting for her to finish her shift. (I've only walked out of two movies in my life, by the way--and both were atrocities I tried sitting through while waiting for my wife to get out of work: Mad Love and Destiny Turns on the Radio.)

Now, I get to the movies about once a month, and it's stuff like Bee Movie and Enchanted, but as much as I miss seeing the "important" films on opening weekend, I don't really mind watching stuff at home a few months later. I don't miss the idiodic crowds with their cellphones that they have to check every ten minutes, or, in one case, a lady who literally brought a book to read during a movie--and sat there reading it with a had-lamp shining brightly on the pages. I don't miss those people at all.

But, even though I did manage to sneak out and see No Country for Old Men (which I'll be reviewing for Dr. Klock's blog next week), I feel like I haven't really seen all that much this year, even on dvd.

Out of the "important" movies from 2007, which, I guess, includes: American Gangster, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, Sicko, Ratatouille, Zodiac, Superbad, Knocked Up, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Darjeerling Limited, and who knows what else, I've only seen four. I feel out of the loop.

Yet I could speak extensively about Shrek 3. But I won't. Because it wasn't very interesting.

There's still hope for me, though. Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will be Blood is coming out soon. I'll be there opening weekend. Count on it.


Marc Caputo said...

Wow - hold a mirror up to my life, why don't you? I saw EVEN less this year - Ocean's 13 (which finishes what is now my FAVORITE movie trilogy of all time - right now, that is. It'll eventually slip back to being the Back to the Future films, though.), Die Hard 4 and Ratatouille. I've decided that I'll only go to see movies worthy of a big screen experience - usually an action film. This makes me realize that I've completed a weird circle in my life: when I was younger, I pretty much saw only big-budget action films. Then, I moved to the quieter, independent films. Now, as I've grown up, I find that I'm back to the big action films on the theaters. Go figure.
And re: the Coens. I'm truly hoping that they're getting back to what made them great. I haven't seen a great one from them since "O Brother, Where Art Thou" and a classic from them since "Fargo". It looks like this is in the same vein as "Fargo", "Blood Simple" and "Miller's Crossing" - which is just where I want 'em.

Timothy Callahan said...

I think you'll be very happy with "No Country..." It's a more assured and restrained "Blood Simple" and very faithful to the McCarthy novel.

I actually think "The Big Lebowski" is their masterpiece, by the way. I think it's superior to "Fargo," even though I love "Fargo."

Timothy Callahan said...

Oh, I forgot to mention Grindhouse! That was actually my favorite moviegoing experience this year, by far. Although, as individual movies, neither "Planet Terror" nor "Death Proof" hold up to repeated viewings. Still, seeing Grindhouse in its full theatrical glory with an audience who really got it was a ton of fun.

Elliott said...

I hardly ever watch movies anymore at all, whether in the theater or at home or whatever else. I usually don't feel like I have that much time to dedicate to watching things anymore, even though I do. I usually use my free time to read, as I've got a gigantic "to be read" stack. When i do watch movies, it's usually just The Empire Strikes Back over and over. I am a complete nerd.

I wanted to see the Darjeeling Limited very much, but I had no one to go with and it's not playing in any of my local theaters anymore, so I'll wait on that DVD.

Marc Caputo said...

I do love "Lebowski" as well, but "Raising Arizona" is still the one that makes me laugh over and over harder and harder. That's up there with "All of Me" and "Midnight Run" as some of favorite comedies ever.

absolutegentleman said...

last Wednesday, Jennet and I got to the movies for the first time, alone, since the second Austin Powers. We saw No Country for Old Men, and I don't know if we were starved, but we both loved it.

Timothy Callahan said...

I'm glad you liked it, and glad you FINALLY got a night on the town with your wife.

When they make a movie version of The Road, we'll have to go together!

Julian Darius said...

I've also not seen a lot this year. I LOVE to go to the movies, but I think a lot of us are feeling that, if we're going to spend $9.00 per person (and it's only fun with someone else), it's got to be something special. Two people is about the cost of OWNING a DVD, or MORE than a month on Netflix (my own choice).

I think we're in an era, with DVDs and online movies, much like what happened after the rise of TV. Movie ticket sales plummeted, and Hollywood responded with the "spectacular": grand historical epics with big budgets, stuff you have to see on the big screen. Today, it's special effects.

Consequently, I end up seeing a lot of movies I don't think are gems but are worth springing for the theatre experience: super-hero movies, Transformers, Die Hard, etc. With trips to the second-run dollar theatre accounting for Ratatouille and the like. And the occasional arty movie not because I can't wait for the DVD to appear on Netflix, but because I just want to go to the movies.

Hence "Grindhouse," which I'd read and heard so much about that it was built up so much that I just hated it. Simply excruciatingly boring. So close to watching 70s grindhouse cinema that it was almost equally boring. The Tarrantino piece was an attrocity, narratively a failed experiment at best and little more than a "look, I can write meandering diologue for young women too" showcase. And I'm a huge "Kill Bill" fan. I like Rodriguez, and "Planet Terror" was definitely superior to "Death Proof," but it was still meandering nonsense that tried so hard to be disposable fluff that it failed for me. It was like the sequel to "Rocky Horror": it just tried too hard and nothing gelled. I watched a girl with a machine gun for a leg and a false missing reel, things I'd otherwise go crazy for, and sat there bored.

Then there's my recent viewing of "No Country for Old Men," which I thought was great, though I think my somewhat younger girlfriend was bored to death and hated the accents. I love the Coens, though I think we'd disagree completely about their work: I hated "Fargo" (I know that part of the country from experience, so it's not exotic, and there's no point to the movie outside of that). I've grown to like "The Big Lebowski," but it's so disposable compared to "Miller's Crossing," "O Brother," "Barton Fink," or "The Hudsucker Proxy" -- the four Coen films that I'm in love with. "No Country" wasn't as good as most of those four, but definitely a damn fine moive.

Just my two cents. I'm waiting for Netflix on the others.

Oh, and Sicko was great; it really makes you cry. In fact, it's nothing short of the redemption of Michael Moore: it's the first thing he's done where the self-congratulatory, "I'm Michael Moore pulling stunts" scenes (and the distortions) don't outweigh the poignant stuff. This is the only man who's ever made me feel bad for Charleton Heston, and I actually wasn't too distracted by him in Sicko.

Marc Caputo said...

Julian: "The Hudsucker Proxy" over "Blood Simple"? I enjoy "Proxy" but it's not essential and, more importantly, it's the one film of theirs where I have to side with Coen detractors when they claim the brothers are too cold and formal. It's funny that that was the one where they were really poised for mainstream success - the big company (Warner Brothers), the big star (Tim Robbins - then, anyway) - hell, Joel Silver produced the thing! Ironically, it was the return to "Blood Simple" territory with "Fargo" that reversed their fortunes. Of course, they've fallen off steeply - "O Brother" to "The Man Who Wasn't There" to "Intolerable Cruelty" to "The Lady killers" traces a more depressin g arc than most of the 1980s crew, including Spike Lee. Hell, Jim Jarmusch is making better movies now than 15 years ago! "Fargo" defines the 1990s for me, even more than "Pulp Fiction" does by dividing it into 2 sets: pre-"Fargo" and post-.

Marc Caputo said...

Spoke without fact-checking. If Silver didn't produce, his production company did.