Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I still love the movie theatre and SUMMERTIME (22)

With the advent of the high end, ultra-huge, plasma/LCD/HD televisions, more and more people are complaining about going out to the theaters to see a movie. The prices are too high, there are too many godawful mouth-breathers polluting the sanctity of the theater with their ill-mannered comments and shameless cell-phone abuse - yes, these are very, very good reasons why watching a movie in the peace and quiet of your home is better than braving the shit show that the "theater experience" has become. I don't want to pay ten dollars to sit next to a 700 hundred pound man who squeezes me in to parts of the seat I didn't know existed and in front of a brainless stooge who tries impress his girlfriend by making comments like, "Whoa, that's a cool car" or "Oh man, that is so funny." I understand. But there is still something absolutely beautiful about a good theater experience.

And I had that tonight with the front-runner for my favorite film so far Let The Right One In. If you're at all film-interested, you've probably heard about this Swedish vampire flick that's garnering absolutely well-earned rave reviews from, well, everyone. I, being a gigantic loser, have spent a good deal of my time over the last eh, two months trying to get people syked about a foreign film about two kids (one a vampire) who fall in love by watching the trailer repeated times and quoting obscure reviews from even dorkier-than-I websites. Seemingly, someone out there is doing a better job than I because when I arrived at, may I say the shittiest theater in Sea-town to see it there was already a steady line of excited filmgoers. This worried me, big crowds create a better chance for dim-witted assholes, and when the sound flickered in and out in the beginning of the film, I started to worry more. Even more so, when the couple behind me started loudly translating the film, I almost snapped, but this lasted only briefly and by the time the film ended I was so happy with the audience and this brilliant movie that I could've hugged each and every one of them. I don't want to give away a damn thing about this film, but please get past all of your genre stereotypes of "horror" movies because this is beautiful, poignant, well-written, absolutely original film and you, being the film-lover that I know you are, need to get out there and see it. It's playing in limited runs in most big cities and is well worth a little travel. Sigh, this one is going to stay with me for a while.

I'd say Let The Right One In is about loneliness more than anything, finding someone, no matter what their past or their occupation or their moral code that you mesh with and being with them. It's what life, in a sense, is all about. And it's nice that Summertime (22) coincidentally is the Criterion film I get to talk about today because it addresses similar points in a totally different way. The film, an under-the-radar pic by David Lean (he of Lawrence of Arabia fame), features the always amazing Katherine Hepburn as a single woman on a vacation in Venice who falls for a strange man and begins a bit of a love affair. Sounds trite right? Wrong. Hepburn brings a certain panic to the film, a certain frantic loneliness that only an getting-on-in-age, single adult can truly know and it makes the film a sad and heartbreaking look at what loneliness can do to us. She's nervous around people, unsure of herself in this foreign country, and it makes us the viewer share in her uncomfortable sadness. Her romance with Renato (Rossano Brazzi), a married Italian, clicks but she overlooks his faults because she only wants someone to be with. I've always thought of Hepburn in her screwball comedy persona, the sort of fast-talking high society broad, but here she brings a real vulnerability that I loved. This was the film that most surprised me in how much I ended up liking it.

What a great evening of film. And here I was thinking that I'd just eat thirteen buffalo wings, feel slightly nauseous, and go to bed feeling emotional beaten. Take that life!

Thursday: Black Orpheus (48) and Robocop (23). Yes, that Robocop (23)

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